Congress seeks ballot papers if EVMs not fool-proof; EC dispatches team

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Congress seeks ballot papers if EVMs not fool-proof; EC dispatches team

New Delhi, April 1 (IANS) The Congress on Saturday asked the Election Commission to re-examine the process concerning use of EVMs in view of report of its tampering from a constituency facing a bypoll in Madhya Pradesh, saying that the poll panel should revert back to the system of ballot papers if political parties are not convinced about credibility of machines.

In a letter to the Election Commission, party leaders Digvijaya Singh, Mohan Prakash, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Vivek K. Tankha and K. C. Mittal said that reported tampering of EVM machines had been widely reported by the media in Madhya Pradesh. The by-polls are scheduled to be held in Ater and Bandhavgarh assembly constituencies next week.

The party said that the “EVM tampering episose” has been videographed in presence of senior district officials in Ater district and had raised questions about authenticity of the machines.

The party also demanded replacement of some officials.

The Congress, in its complaint, referred to reports which said that during a demonstration ahead of the by-polls, the voter-verified paper audit trail showed the Bharatiya Janata Party as the voted party on pressing two different buttons.

Responding to the Congress complaint, the Election Commission said that it has decided to depute a team led by Bhanwar Lal, CEO of Andhra Pradesh to supervise by-elections in Madhya Pradesh. It said the team will superivse implementation of administrative and security instructions of the poll panel.

The EC said that it has also decided to depute two teams of officers of the panel along with technical experts to ensure the correct functioning of EVMs and VVPATs (voter verified paper audit trial) being deployed in the two assembly constituencies.

“The integrity of the EVMs and the VVPATs to be used in the poll will be demonstrated to the complete satisfaction of all stakeholders by the team. These team will remain in the assembly constituency till the counting is over,” the poll panel said.

It said the commission is committed to conduct entire electoral process transparently, fairly and to the complete satisfaction of stakeholders including the voters.

“ECI will always hear and redress genuine and credible suggestions from stakeholders to further strengthen the electoral system,” it said.

The Congress had said that that the entire process should be re-examined thoroughly in the face of revelation about tampering of EVMs.

“All parties should be taken into confidence for the credibility and viability of the use of EVMs or to revert back to the system of ballot papers,” the party said.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also urged the ECI on Saturday to investigate cases of faulty EVMs to ascertain if they were tampered with to favour the BJP in the just-concluded assembly elections in Manipur, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Punjab.

This is published unedited from the IANS feed.