Top Opposition leaders addressed a joint press conference over the issue of malfunctioning EVMs in the country on Tuesday, 23 April, in Mumbai. Talking to the media, Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu said that out of 191 countries in the world, only 18 have adopted EVMs for polls and most of them are underdeveloped and small countries.
“Today there are complaints from Goa, Kerala and UP and all say that whomever you vote for, the vote goes to lotus,” he said.
Addressing rumours about Russians being involved, Naidu cited provisions for an audit of EVMs, the absence of a regulator to oversee the usage of the machines, and malfunctioning as some of the reasons behind the criticisms of EVMs.
Citing the petition filed by 23 parties in the Supreme Court against EVMs, Naidu asked why the VVPAT displays the slip only for 3 seconds instead of 7 seconds. Naidu demanded that the EC ensure cross-checking of 50 percent of VVPAT slips and if there is any difference between the VVPAT record and the EVM, the VVPAT should prevailed.
The leaders who attended the meet include NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, NCP leader Praful Patel, TDP leader and Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu, former union minister and Congress leader Sushilkumar Shinde, Aam Aadmi Party’s Sanjay Singh, TMC’s Nazmul Haq, TKS Elangoval of DMK, Mahendra Singh of the CPI-M among others.
A delegation led by Naidu had approached the Election Commission last week over the malfunctioning of EVMs in Andhra Pradesh, but the EC refused to engage with them, citing presence of Hari Prasad who, in the past, had displayed how EVMs malfunction.
Prasad had last week raised fresh concerns over how VVPATs are working on the ground, as they are not showing the printed audit slips for 7 seconds as mentioned in the VVPAT manual, and are only displaying it for 3 seconds.
Prasad’s hypothesis is that, either there has been a change in the code, or the EVMs are faulty. The Election Commission ought to have answered his concerns by investigating this change in the functioning of VVPATs.
The Election Commission did not engage with the TDP delegation and Hari Prasad, raising questions on its impartiality and decisions. In the past, Hari Prasad had showed how EVMs could be tampered with, by using an actual EVM, reportedly supplied to him by an insider. The EC had then filed a complaint of theft against him, instead of acting on the issue.
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