Opposition parties turned out in strength before the Election Commission today with a laundry list of demands they said were “confidence-building measures”. The prime concern is the order of counting of national election votes on Thursday – the parties want the VVPAT (Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail) machines be considered first.
After the meeting, senior Congress leader Ghulan Nabi Azad said: “The Supreme Court said five random VVPATs should be counted, but the EC has said that counting will be done first and then VVPATs will be counted. We have said – let them count the five first, so that if there is a problem, we can then count all of them before it is too late.” The Commission has said they would take a call on the issue tomorrow morning, said Congress’s Abhishek Singhvi.
The question of tallying VVPAT slips rose after political parties contended after the 2017 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh that the voting machines were tampered to favour the BJP. The Supreme Court, where the matte finally went, asked the Election Commission to increase random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs from one to five polling booths per assembly segment in Lok Sabha polls.
Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ashok Gehlot, Abhishek Manu Singhvi of the Congress, TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu, Satish Chandra Misra of the BSP, Sitaram Yechury of the CPI(M), D Raja of the CPI, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal, Derek O’Brien of the TMC, Ramgopal Yadav of the SP, Kanimozhi of the DMK, Manoj Jha (RJD), Majeed Memon (NCP), Devinder Rana (NC) are taking part in the meeting among others.
“On VVPATs and the EVM tally, the EC is yet to come out with a procedure in case there is a mismatch. Even if there is one mismatch in the VVPAT samples picked for counting and EVMs, to maintain the integrity of the electoral process, all VVPATs in that Assembly segment must be counted,” Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Yechury said.