Himachal CM Virbhadra Singh doubts EVMs, wants ballot papers for 2017 state Assembly elections

Virbhadra Singh is the first chief minister of a state - where elections would be held in near future - to raise doubts over the use of EVMs and demand switching back to ballot papers.

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has expressed doubts over the reliability of EVMs and demanded the use of ballot papers in the state.

Himachal Pradesh goes to polls later this year.

Virbhadra Singh said, "It looks like EVMs can be manipulated. I don't want them to be used in Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections. Instead ballot papers should be used."

Virbhadra Singh is the first chief minister of a state - where elections would be held in near future - to raise doubts over the use of EVMs and demand switching back to ballot papers.

So far, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati, Congress leaders and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, among others, have questioned the dependability on EVMs. They have also alleged that EVMs were rigged in the recently-held Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur. The results to these elections were announced on March 11.

Kejriwal, who is also the convener of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), has entered into a bitter argument with the Election Commission (EC) over the reliability of EVMs. He has attributed the poor show of his party in Punjab to the alleged rigging of EVMs.

The group of politicians, which has raised its voice against the use of EVMs, got emboldened when a machine reportedly malfunctioned during a demonstration conducted by Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer Salina Singh last week.

Kejriwal alleged the software of EVMs can be bugged. He dared EC to hand over one machine for 72 hours and he would prove that the EVM's software can be over-written.

However, EC has rubbished Kejriwal's claims and reiterated that EVMs have never been rigged.

BJP has also lashed out at Kejriwal and others who have expressed doubts over the impartiality of EVMs. It has called Kejriwal's charge as a case of sour grapes.

However, a new dimension has been added to the controversy with Virbhadra Singh joining Kejriwal and others in demanding that the country should shift back its gears to the use of ballot papers. EC is expected to shortly issue a statement allaying the Himachal Pradesh's fears.

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