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Political parties appeal to EC on EVM use

Source: PTI
October 04, 2010 17:02 IST
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Political parties on Monday said that the Election Commission should take steps to enhance the confidence of people on use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in polls in view of apprehensions that they could be tampered with.

Attending a meeting of political parties convened by the Commission, the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party made a strong plea to go for a "paper trail".

'Even the EC won't know if an EVM is tampered'

BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said his party suggested a paper trail as an acknowledgement that the vote has been cast in favour of a particular candidate.

"Like EVMs were started as a pilot project, this concept should be launched in a small constituency... the EC should work on it," he said.

Congress leader Jayanthi Natarajan, however, said the paper trail should only be accessed with the permission of the court in case of a complaint. "Even the EC should not access it without the permission of the court," she said.

'Is Election Commission a vendor for the EVMs?'

Natarajan said suggestions to improve EVMs are understandable but said Congress supported its use.

Communist Party of India leader D Raja suggested enhancing the confidence of people on EVM use and said the EC should take steps to strengthen the system as some doubts have been expressed.         

CPI-M's Nilotpal Basu said the party raised the mater before the EC and the manufacturers of the machines, which have been clarified.

"To ally the fears, whatever needs to be done should be done," he said.

During the meeting, the leaders also suggested that the Election Commission device mechanism to curb the practice of paid news, criminalisation of politics along with use of muscle and money power in elections.

How India's EVMs could be manipulated

"We had a very fruitful and productive discussion. All parties had almost similar views on these issues," Natarajan told media persons after the meeting.

Raja said, "Money power is a menace and is subverting the system. For paid news, media houses have to make a code as it could affect a fair and free election...every political party will have to make a code on how to select candidates to prevent criminalisation of politics."

He also suggested that EC should seize "unaccounted money" and stop freebies to check money power in elections.

Basu echoed similar sentiments, saying paid news phenomenon was infringing electoral process.

"EC should take whatever legal steps, which are necessary to address the issue," the CPI-M leader said.

Leaders agreed that against the backdrop of a code suggested by the Press Council of India on paid news, the EC should set a up an expert body to tackle the issue.

On criminalisation of politics, Basu claimed that "the consensus was that a chargesheeted person should not be disallowed to contest elections. This should only apply on convicted persons".

But Prasad said the EC should define a "heinous crime" and any person who is chargesheeted by a court in two separate cases should be barred from contesting elections.

"Before deciding on stopping someone from contesting, we also have to keep in mind politically motivated cases against people," he said.

The BJP also suggested state funding for elections and holding Lok Sabha and assembly polls together to check influence of money power.

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