Rajya Sabha took up discussion on Electoral reforms on Wednesday, with members coming up with suggestions to make the poll process and campaigning expenses transparent. Union Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is slated to reply to the debate.
Taking up the issue of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “There is now some doubt on the EVMs… they are not under ambit of doubts. Leaders of our party spoke about the EVMs after Maharashtra polls, Mayawati spoke over it and others too did”.
Azad’s remarks courted a brief intervention from the ruling benches, when he said, “let’s have polling in Uttar Pardesh once again through ballot papers”, adding “we are even ready for re-polling in Punjab through paper ballots”.
“It is due to these machines that you got 325 seats instead of 100 seats…,” he said targeting the ruling BJP.
The issue of EVM tampering was off-late raised by the BSP chief Mayawati, whose party had performed dismally scoring just 19 seats out of 403 seats. She had raised the issue in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday daring the BJP to hold assembly elections in the state again, using paper ballots.
“Election Commission (EC) has send 11 letters to government and one SOS (save our soul) message to the Prime Minister about the use of these paper trail machines. Since the Government has not responded to the EC’s communique, the people are doubting the intention of the government,” the Leader of Opposition said.
Asking the government to opt for VPAT paper trail EVM machines, Azad said, “let the upcoming elections in states be held through VPAT machines and ballot boxes”.
Other opposition party leaders also stressed on the issue of EVMs.
Even the Supreme Court had said that to make EVM system completely foolproof, there is a need to compliment it with the paper trail, senior parliamentarian Sharad Yadav said.
“Let there be a committee, may be a house committee to probe the controversy arising out of EVMs… If in a democracy such a big question arises, we must address it,” the JDU leader said.
Samajwadi Party leader Ramgopal Yadav raised the subject of poll funding besides also raising questions on the EVMs.
On the current process where there is no cap on expenditure by the parties, while there is a limit on individual candidates, he said, “It is the biggest loophole in the polls… All the expenses should be kept under the head specifying expenses made by the candidates,” Yadav said.
Talking of the simultaneous polls, he said this system is not possible in India. “It is possible in the countries with only to-party system… we have robust regional parties in India. Could you hold simultaneous polls in 2019 dissolving all the assemblies?” the senior SP leader said.
BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra took on the BJP for the stand taken by some of the prominent leaders against the use of EVMs in the past. Mishra’s party chief has been forefront of raising the issue soon after debacle in the UP polls.
“Studies have shown that any electronic machines can be hacked,” Mishra said daring the BJP for holding elections in UP once again.
“Where were these machines manufactured? The government should tell us where has its chip being manufactured?” he asked, adding “If the confidence of voter is shattered than what else is left… even your leader Subramanian Swamy had said this earlier raising concern over EVMs”.