At an all-party meeting with the Election Commission today, the Congress and the other opposition parties raised their longtime allegation about tinkering of Electronic Voting Machines, which they say ensures votes in the BJP's favour. The parties questioned how in every case of EVM malfunction, the vote goes to only one party and demanded that the commission hand over the name and address of the firms that repair these.
Besides the ruling BJP, opposition Congress, Trinamool Congress, Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party, CPI, CPM and Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party and 51 state parties were present in the meeting, which was called by the Commission to find political consensus on some electoral reforms.
Since the BJP's sweeping victory in Uttar Pradesh last year, Mayawati, along with Aam Aadmi Party, had been alleging that results were skewed because of manipulation of the Electronic Voting Machines. The allegations had gained momentum after a few instances of EVM malfunction, pushing the Election Commission to finally challenge anyone to hack into an Electronic Voting Machine.
After the meeting, Congress leader Mukul Wasnik told NDTV that the EVMs "do not reflect the will of the people".
"There have been a number of times when EVMs malfunction and it (the vote) goes to only one political party. We want to know who is repairing the EVMs and how many of the old ones are being used. We want the VVPAT and the EVMs to be checked," Mr Wasnik told NDTV.
Going a step further, Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress demanded a return to ballot boxes. "We have no faith in the EVMs," said party leader Kalyan banerjee
In a couple of elections lately, the Election Commission had used VVPAT or Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail Machines, which also keeps a paper record of every vote cast. This was matched with the result given by EVMs in only some cases.
Former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi, has however, said the commission only matches one per cent of the votes. To dispel doubts, the commission should allow matching results of at least five per cent EVMs and paper trail slips, he said.
The political parties want at least 30% of them to be cross-checked.