The Opposition parties met the Election Commission on Tuesday after rumours of movement of electronic voting machines (EVMs) surfaced in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Bihar. They sought EC answers on the movement when the EVMs have to be stored in strongrooms. The parties also told the poll panel that such rumours lent more weight to fears that Thursday’s counting of election results may not be the actual will of the people. In this regard, the Opposition asked the EC to check the 5 VVPAT machines first and order repolling if any discrepancy is found.
Earlier, the opposition parties, 21 in number, addressed a press conference at the Constitution Club in Delhi and marched to the EC. The Election Commission has however said the movement of EVMs is not a cause for worry and routine. It said candidates have the numbers of the EVMs and they could check them at the counting centres on May 23 before counting.
Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the media that the EC had heard their views and would decide on the demand on Wednesday morning. The opposition delegation comprised representatives from the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Telugu Desam Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Left parties. The Commission will counter-check the VVPAT and EVM tallies in five randomly selected polling stations in an Assembly segment. Before the Opposition met the EC on Tuesday, the Supreme Court dismissed a plea from a Chennai organisation to ensure 100 per cent matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs. The apex court had earlier this month rejected a review petition filed by 21 opposition parties for verification of voter tally in at least 25% of booths.
The Opposition move comes after exit polls on Sunday predicted a smooth victory for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance coalition at the Centre. Majority of the polls have predicted that BJP will be winning over 300+ seats, followed by Congress-led United Progressive Alliance which could get 100-150 seats.
The Opposition has dismissed the exit polls predictions citing rigged mechanism being deployed to get the result. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee rubbished exit polls, she said they were a cue to manipulate or replace thousands of EVMs. Congress President Rahul Gandhi tweeted about the manipulation of EVMs and their impact on the 2019 election result.
Meanwhile, BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, responding to concerns over EVM veracity, has asked the opposition to accept the poll verdict on May 23 and not resort to blame-game.