A day after Lalu Yadav extended his support to the BSP supremo Mayawati for suspecting EVM fraud in the just concluded Uttar Pradesh elections, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal too expressed reservations about electronic voting machines on Tuesday.
Kejriwal, according to news agency PTI, asked the Election Commission to return to ballot papers in the upcoming civic body polls in the national capital.
Kejriwal has also directed Chief Secretary M M Kutty to write to the State Election Commission in this regard.
“The Chief Minister has directed the chief secretary to ask the state election office to hold MCD elections through ballot papers,” a source in the CM office said.
However, the state election commissioner was quick to dismiss Kejriwal’s demand as he reiterated that EVM will be used in the next month’s civic body polls.
SK Srivastava said, “EVMs will be used in the upcoming municipal corporation elections in Delhi.”
The move comes close on the heels of Mayawati questioning the “reliability” of electronic voting machines (EVMs). She had alleged that they were tampered with in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, where her party suffered a debacle.
Earlier, Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken also requested Kejriwal to opt for ballot papers and shun EVMs in the corporation polls.
“Many are doubting EVMs-Not prejudiced-nor casting aspersions on results; I want @ArvindKejriwal to hold MCD elections through Ballot Papers,” he had tweeted.
My Letter to Kejriwal to hold Delhi Municipal Elections through Ballot Paper-
It also indicates-how he is empowered and why should he do so? pic.twitter.com/sHVAMn587K
— Ajay Maken (@ajaymaken) March 14, 2017
AAPs Jarnail Singh, who lost to former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal from Lambi, also demanded use of ballots in the elections ahead.
“Although we accept defeat, we have serious doubts over the results in Punjab. There are several villages in the Lambi constituency where we have received less votes than the number of volunteers we have there.
“For the first time, voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) was used in Punjab. When we asked the Returning Officer to tally the number of votes to the VVPATs, he declined to do so,” Singh said.
AAP sources said there were 33 Assembly constituencies in Punjab where VVPAT was used, and that it would ask the poll panel to verify them again with the number of votes received.
They said the party had been “gathering evidence” before it could officially take up the matter with the poll panel.
Where a paper trail audit or VVPAT is used, the counting agent can call for a count of the paper slips in the drop box attached to the voting machine, but the final count is taken by the Returning Officer.
Reacting to Kejriwal’s demand, Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said in that case fresh polls should be held to the 67 seats won by the AAP in the 2015 Assembly polls.
“See, taking a call on this issue is the commission’s job.
We are ready irrespective of how the polls are held, be it through ballot papers or EVMs,” he said.
AAP’s Delhi unit convenor Dilip Pandey also raised doubts over functioning of the EVMs and demanded use of ballots in the upcoming civic body polls.
“There is a buzz from MCD polls in Chandigarh, Mumbai civic polls and the recently-concluded elections in five states. This has put credibility of EVMs machines under doubt.
“Even I have written to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urging him that unless doubts pertaining to EVM machines are not cleared, use of these machines will be dangerous for democracy,” he said.
(With PTI inputs)