- Election Commission has repeatedly urged centre to release funds: Sources
- Need Rs 3,000 crore for VVPAT machines for 2019 polls: Commission sources
- Parties have raised serious questions on EVMs used in recent polls
Demands by political parties to introduce the machines - known as VVPAT - for the next general election have gained ground, as controversy has mounted over the alleged misuse of Electronic Voting Machines or EVMs.
Sources in the Commission say that they need close to 1.4 million VVPAT or voter-verifiable paper audit trail machines if they need to be able to cover all of India in 2019. At the moment they only have 53,000.
Repeated requests to the centre to release the funds required - Rs 3,174 crore - have not yielded any results, said the Commission. The last reminder, marked to the Law Ministry, was sent on March 22, 2017.
Attached to the EVM machine, VVPATs generate a paper record of the vote cast, providing an additional layer of verification.
The Commission also rebutted charges that they went ahead with elections in Kashmir against the advice of the centre. Reports suggested that the Home Ministry had advised against the holding of by-polls to two Lok Sabha seats in the troubled Kashmir Valley after voting in one of the seats, Srinagar, was marred by violence and low turnout.
But the Commission claims they are not bound by the advice of the Home Ministry; their point of reference is the State Government, which said they were prepared to hold panchayat elections. The election body took that as a sign that the state was prepared to hold Lok Sabha polls.
In a disclosure that is bound to stir the political pot, the Commission said that the Home Ministry had also advised against holding the recent assembly polls in Manipur, citing as reason the state's troubles with insurgent outfits, both local as well as those operating from across the border with Myanmar.
The Home Ministry, said Commission sources, advised that in those conditions, the atmosphere was not conducive for free and fair elections in Manipur.
But again, acting on the advice of the Manipur government, the Commission went ahead; the elections in that North Eastern state went off successfully.