Paper ballots, electoral rolls, capping expenditure dominate EC’s all-party meet

New Delhi, Aug 27 : The demand for replacing the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) by paper ballots, transparency in electoral rolls and ceiling on party election expenditure dominated the meeting of all national and state recognized political parties with Election Commission (EC).
The poll panel invited seven national parties and 51 regional parties, of which 41 representatives came to the meet. Each party was allotted 10 minutes to put their point.
The representatives from several opposition parties including the Indian National Congress (INC), Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Trinamool Congress (TMC), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Samajwadi Party (SP), Communist Party of India (CPI), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), even NDA ally Shiv Sena also stressed on EVMs vulnerability.
Talking to reporters after meeting the poll body, Congress leader Mukul Wasnik questioned the authenticity of EVMs.
“We have seen a rise in the repetitive problems occurring in the EVMs. One presses any button but the vote goes to only one political party. We want to know how the EVMs are repaired and do we use the old one,” he asked.
Kalyan Banerjee of TMC echoed the similar sentiment, adding that his party had no faith on the EVMs.
A representative from JD-S, Danish Ali, asked as to why the commission didn’t cap the expenditure of political parties.
“There is a cap on individual expenditure but parties can spend any amount. The corporates fund the party in power, then how come it’s a level playing field for all? The commission must put a ceiling on party election expenditure if it wants a fair election,” Danish added.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, stressed on the electoral roll revision and urged the election commission to take action in this regard.
“The commission should ensure that every eligible voter gets enrolled and cast his vote; we have seen instances of voter slips being sold, there should be a provision of carrying another identity card along with it,” Bhupendra Yadav, General Secretary, BJP told ANI.
On being asked about the majority of opposition uniting in demand for switching back to ballot papers, Yadav said, “These parties often claim credit in victory, but blame EVMs in their defeats”.
Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat, after hearing all the parties, said that the poll body has taken a note of the concern raised by parties on EVMs and assured of appropriate majors to overcome the shortcomings.
“All political parties were very positive and constructive in suggesting ways and means to further improve the integrity of elections. The Commission will take all the suggestions, examine and whatever needs to be done to improve the delivery of elections will be done,” CEC Rawat said.
“Some of the parties said going back to the ballot is bad as it would bring back booth capturing”, he added.
When asked if the issue of ‘One Nation One Election’ was discussed in the meeting, Rawat said a few parties did come up with it, but a few had their reservations”.



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