Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI — Thousands of people participated in the long marches on Friday across the country raising the slogan “EVM Hatao-Desh Bachao-Ballot Paper Lao” (Abolish EVM-Save Nation-Bring Ballot Paper) to press their demand for the abolition of the electronic voting machine (EVM).
The EVM Virodhi Rashtriya Jan Andolan (EVRJA), a conglomeration of various organisations opposed to the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) in elections, organised long marches in different cities of India. This ‘EVM Quit India’ movement marked the 78th anniversary of ‘Quit India’ Movement launched by Mahatama Gandhi on this day.
The conveners of the march also submitted a memorandum to the President of India urging him to ask the government to revert to ballot paper system as EVMs are vulnerable to manipulations which, they said, was proved in the recently held national election.
Replicating the spirit of the ‘Quit India’ movement, the marches were held in all major cities and towns. In the National Capital, hundreds of men, women and young people marched from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar under the banner of EVM Virodhi Rashtriya Jan Andolan.
The EVM Virodhi Rashtriya Jan Andolan, the anti-EVM conglomerate, had given the call for the nationwide marches.
In the national capital the march culminated at Jantar Mantar where it turned into a protest rally. Civil society groups and prominent activists and political leaders expressed their serious doubts over the efficacy of EVMs in holding free and fair polls.
Speaker after speaker described EVM tampering as “worse than booth capturing” and that such exercise with compromised machines would give “far greater legitimacy, as it would be invisible, technology-driven and could steal peoples’ mandate without being discovered.
They asked why only the ruling BJP is running away from paper ballot elections while all Opposition parties are unanimous in their demand for it.
It may be recalled recalled here that soon after the general election results came out, the EVRJA had written an open letter to Opposition parties urging them to take up a campaign to return to ballot paper during elections. It had said that the “depth and scale” of BJP victories in Hindi heartland states had set the alarm bells ringing about tampering of EVMs.
Those who spoke at the rally were Dipankar Bhattacharya (CPIML), Hardik Patel (youth leader of the Congress and president of Janta Manch), Kunwar Danish Ali (BSP), Sanjay Singh (AAP), Prof Kiran Walia ( Cong), Anjali Bhardwaj, Dr SN Gautam, Gauhar Raza,Javed, Kawalpreet Kaur, Lalit Gautam, Minakshi Singh,N Sai Balaji,Nand Kumar Baghel of Matdata Jagrity Manch , Chhattisgarh, Pratap Dhunta, Sandeep Pandey Sanjay Kanojia, Girija Pathak, Sushila Murare, OP Shukla, Prof Ratan Lal among others.
The long march and rally, organised by a host of organizations, including AIPWA, AISA, Akhil Bhartiya Dalit Bachao Andolan, All India Confederation Of SC/ST Organisations, Aman Biradari, Anhad, Bahujan Azad Party, Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (Dasam), Delhi Solidarity Group, Dilli Pradesh Dhobi Mahasabha, Dwarka Citizens For Ballot, Ehsaas Foundation, Financial Accountability Network India, Gapp Gathbandhan, Humanist Movements, Khudai Khidmatgar, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Krantikari Mazdoor Morcha, Meri Awaaz, MKSS, Muslim Women’s Forum, Nacdaor, Napm, Nation For Farmers, National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), OBR India, Pehchan, Rashtriya Isai Mahasangh, Right To Food Campaign, Sadbhav Mission, Samajwadi Samagam, and Satark Nagrik Sangathan.
On the occasion, Deepti of NFIW, Hardik Patel, Sanjay Singh, Sandeep Pandey, Nandita Narain, N Sai Balajee, Shabnam Hashmi, Pratap Dhunta and Minakshi Singh released the memorandum presented to the President of India in New Delhi.