Many opposition leaders, including Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and Telugu Desam Party president Chandrababu Naidu, today renewed their demand that the Election Commission cross-check votes recorded by over 50% of the total electronic voting machines (EVMs) to prevent electoral malpractices. They also vowed to file a review plea in the Supreme Court on the issue.
The renewed call comes over two weeks after the top court ordered the poll body to cross-check voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) slips of five randomly selected EVMs in every constituency instead of just one in the Lok Sabha elections. Such a practice, the top court said, would ensure the "greatest degree of accuracy and satisfaction" in the election process.
The opposition leaders, however, did not seem satisfied. "I have scouted through many constituencies, and it is clear that the people do not favour the BJP-led central government. But that will not matter if the EVMs are hacked or manipulated in any way," said Mr Pawar.
The former Maharashtra Chief Minister claims that he has received complaints about the polling process from various quarters. "All I am saying is, people will start feeling more comfortable with the voting system if 50% of the EVMs are verified," he told NDTV after the press meet.
Mr Pawar also accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of violating the Model Code of Conduct by reportedly holding a road show and giving a political speech after casting his vote in Gujarat's Ahmedabad. The oppositon has already approached the election body in this regard.
Mr Naidu announced at the press meet that 23 opposition parties will soon file a review plea in the Supreme Court on the issue, and back it up with other petitions. "What we are demanding is something that can be done... it is easily achievable," news agency IANS quoted him as saying at the event, which was attended by senior Congress leader Sushilkumar Shinde and the Aam Aadmi Party's Sanjay Singh -- among others.
"EVMs can be manipulated, hacked and they are susceptible to programming errors," the Telugu Desam Party leader said, questioning why voter slips in new VVPATs are visible only for three seconds instead of seven.
Sanjay Singh accused the Election Commission of behaving like Dhritarashtra -- the blind king from the Mahabharata -- while their EVMs "gift votes to the BJP regardless of which button the voter punches".
(With inputs from IANS)