DAINIK NATION BUREAU
Opposition has opposed electronic voting machines (EVMs) and demands election through the ballot paper. Seventeen parties — including the Congress, Trinamool Congress, NCP, RJD, SP, BSP, RLD and DMK — are of the view that the integrity of EVMs is doubtful and holding the General election-2019 with the voting machines will undermine democracy.
These parties are mulling petitioning the Election Commission of India (ECI) for scrapping the machines. Raising the issue during Zero hour, Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy claimed the EVMs could be manipulated by the ruling party. “The neutrality of EVMs stands compromised. The TMC seeks that the ballot paper be brought back to conduct the 2019 elections. As many as 17 Opposition parties are planning to get together to make a representation to the EC.”
To ascertain their contention, Opposition leaders pointed that several evolved democracies, such as the US and Germany, continue to rely on the ballot paper.
Supporting the demand Congress leader Manish Tewari said, “If the EC does not see reason in the genuine demand of the Opposition, there is always the option of approaching the Supreme Court. The ECI is only one stakeholder in ensuring free and fair polls. It is obliged to address the concerns of other stakeholders as well.”
He claimed that responding to an RTI query, the EC had admitted that the source code of EVMs lay outside its jurisdiction with Bharat Electronics Limited and Electronic Corporation of India Limited.
“This is incredible. An ‘election integrity activist’ has sent me the RTI reply where the EC admits that the source code of EVMs, which can be used to manipulate the machines, rests outside the EC jurisdiction,” Tewari said.
The activist had sought to know the “firmware source code of both the units used in an EVM”. The reply was: “This information is not available with the commission. It is likely to be available with BEL and ECIL.”