Have faith in EVM, no return of ballot papers in Maha: Dy CM

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(Eds: Adds details) Mumbai, Feb 11 (PTI) Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Thursday expressed complete faith in electronic voting machines (EVMs) and asserted the state government does not want the use of ballot papers in polls.

In the past, several non-BJP parties, including the Congress and the NCP, have raised doubts over the reliability of EVMs, claiming they are prone to manipulation.

Interacting with the media here, Pawar, a senior NCP leader, said EVMs work fine, but they become target of criticism from losing sides in elections.

Before resigning recently as Maharashtra Assembly speaker, Nana Patole, now state Congress president, had asked the legislature to frame a law to give voters the option of using ballot papers besides EVMs in local governing bodies and Assembly polls.

Patole, as the speaker, had issued the instruction during a meeting held earlier this month after complaints about alleged EVM tampering in polls.

When asked about Patole's instruction, Pawar said, 'Each individual can have a different view. They think that way and I have said what I feel (about the use of EVMs).' Speaking about the government's official stand on the issue, Pawar said the MVA dispensation, in which the Shiv Sena and the Congress are the other two constituents, 'absolutely does not' want the use of ballot papers.

The senior NCP leader noted the Congress formed governments in Rajasthan (in 2018) and Punjab (2017) even when EVMs were used in the Assembly polls held in the two states.

'Everything is fine with people in any party if they get majority. But they start alleging that EVMs were managed if they get routed...EVMs are working fine. Work becomes paperless. What I can say, I have complete faith in EVMs,' Pawar said.

Asked about media reports of a recent forensic study by a US-based digital firm which claimed that key evidence was 'planted' on computer of activist Rona Wilson, arrested in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, Pawar said he does not have information about it.

The deputy chief minister, however, said the stance of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government is that no innocent person should be troubled in any case.

Action will be taken against the guilty, if any, as per the law and the Constitution, he said.

The chief minister and key people in the government will take a decision on whether an SIT needs to be formed to probe into the allegation of evidence planting, Pawar said.

The deputy chief minister trashed speculation about the BJP and the NCP getting closer after Union Home Minister Amit Shah's visit to the Konkan region, a Shiv Sena stronghold, on Sunday.

'There is absolutely no truth in it,' Pawar added.

'it is a new information that has come to me from the media. We will check if something of that sort has happened.

We will take decisions after doing so (examining the information),' Pawar said sarcastically.

The NCP leader said no one should pay attention to such discussions.

Meanwhile, talking to reporters in Pune, former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis questioned the veracity of a report of the US-based digital firm which has claimed key evidence was 'planted' on the computer of Wilson.

The BJP leader said in the first paragraph of its report, the firm has said 'they are being employed' by the activist who is currently in jail.

'So it is neither an independent report nor was it sent by the government to any forensic agency in the US,' Fadnavis said, adding that central agencies have rejected the report. PTI ENM SPK ARU GK RSY RSY