Eleven opposition parties, including the Congress, on Saturday resolved to fight against what they called the misuse of electronic voting machines (EVMs), money power and the media by the BJP-led government at the centre, claiming it poses the "gravest challenge" to democracy in India.
The 11 parties are the Congress, CPIM, SP, BSP, CPI, NCP, TRS, RJD, RLD, Welfare Party and the Swaraj India. Three resolutions were passed at a conference attended by these parties in Delhi.
At the conference, they discussed and deliberated at length the challenge of 3Ms -- machine, money and media -- faced by India's electoral democracy and unanimously passed the resolutions on them.
The first resolution was on EVM and VVPAT counting in which they said that it is recognised that purely EVM-based voting and counting does not comply with "democracy principles" which require that each voter should be able to verify that his or her vote is cast-as-intended; recorded-as-cast and counted-as-recorded.
They claimed electronic voting machines (EVMs) cannot be assumed to be tamper-proof.
"The voting process should be redesigned to be software and hardware independent in order to be verifiable or auditable. The VVPAT (voter verifiable paper audit trail) system should be re-designed to be fully voter-verified. A voter should be able to get the VVPAT slip and cast it in a chip-free ballot box for the vote to be valid and counted," the resolution stated.
In the second resolution, the parties stated how massive money power and the criminal muscle-power created thereof is destroying the very integrity of India's elections.
"Candidates expenses have a ceiling but political party spending does not have any ceiling The fast-rising economic oligarchy in the country threatening India as a welfare state is the direct fallout of this extreme criminal and money power in elections which is the fountainhead of all corruption in the country," they said.
The parties claimed that the government, using the Money Bill route to bypass Rajya Sabha, introduced the electoral bond scheme that has increased opaqueness and consolidated the role of big money in electoral politics. The electoral bond scheme in its current form must be immediately discontinued, they said.
The third resolution was on how India's mediascape has undergone a major transformation with the exponential growth in the use of the internet across the world and also in India.
"Unfortunately, communication technologies and media platforms are creating polarization through the circulation of disinformation and hate- filled text posts and tweets. Despite guidelines and codes, ECI (Election Commission of India) has not seemed to be taking cognizance of the many violations in the past elections. ECI failed to curb fake news online before and during these elections," the resolution said.