Congress Expresses Concern over EVMs Ahead of Gujarat Assembly Election

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A delegation of the Congress leaders urged the Election Commission to implement the Supreme Court’s orders on EVMs and VVPAT and ensure fair and free polls in Gujarat

ABDUL BARI MASOUD | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI — Fearing UP election type “manipulation and tampering” of EVMs in the forthcoming crucial Gujarat Assembly elections, the Congress on Friday knocked the doors of Election Commission of India (ECI) urging it to implement the Supreme Court’s orders on EVMs and VVPAT.

The party, which is hoping to regain power in the state after 22 years, also urged the ECI to appoint “unbiased” observers and install CCTVs in all booths.

A delegation of the Congress leaders from Gujarat led by Ahmed Patel called on the Chief Election Commissioner at the commission headquarters here and submitted a detailed memorandum to him. The delegation told the CEC that the Election Commission being the Constitutional watchdog for ensuring transparency, free and fair elections, it should immediately issue appropriate instructions and orders for ensuring free and fair elections in Gujarat.

The delegation said that “there is some whisper in public domain that EVMs sent by the Election Commission for the forthcoming Gujarat Assembly elections are the same as used in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections”.

The Congress delegation also urged the ECI that if the candidate is not satisfied with the counting process or the results, there should be a recounting immediately. “If, further the candidate or his agent is not satisfied with the counting or the results he should be permitted for counting of the paper trails of a particular booth(s) to a minimum of 5% of booths in the constituency and compare it with the VVPAT results. The returning officer has to give a certificate of counting and comparison of paper trails to the candidates, forthwith. This would also establish the creditability of VVPAT machines”.

The Congress delegation said the ECI must appoint unbiased officials as observers and the observers must be instructed to respond and take action on ground level complaints made to them.

The delegation also raised the quality of thermal printer and paper in the VVPAT machines saying it cannot stand more than 15-20 days. It asked the ECI to use high-quality printers and papers to be used in VVPAT machines in order to avoid any kind of vulnerability and manipulations in the paper trails during the elections. “The paper trails have to be collected in a box and such boxes have to be properly sealed with the signature of the booth agent of the candidates and also the returning officer, and have to be preserved at least for 120 days.”

Since Gujarat elections are crucial in many ways, the Congress delegation said the ECI must appoint unbiased officials as observers and the observers must be instructed to respond and take action on ground level complaints made to them. “Action on complaints is a key to free and fair elections on minute to minute basis,” the delegation told the ECI.

The delegation also asked the Commission to install CCTVs in each polling booth to record the mobility of personnel and persons deployed for the election process. It also suggested that the number of votes along with mobility of personnel should be displayed on a screen which shall be installed outside the booth.

The delegation was comprised of Madhusudam Mistry, Deepak Babaria, Vivek Tankha, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Arjunbhai Modwadia, Siddharth Patel, VV Rabari and Gaurav Pandya.

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