EC only an arbiter, not the controller of democratic process: Congress

Electronic Voting Machine

Electronic Voting Machine

The Rajya Sabha was once again rocked on Wednesday and briefly adjourned as the Opposition protested from the well over an alleged scam of misuse of the electronic voting machines (EVMs) to benefit the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party.

Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien asked the members to maintain peace but nobody paid heed, following which he adjourned the upper house for eight minutes. "So the Election Commission should explore the possibility of shifting to alternative system of paper ballot and stop experimenting with the democratic process", Congress general secretary Mohan Prakash said here today. "These EVMs should not be used in the April 23 civic polls in Delhi, coming assembly polls in Gujarat and other states".

During the debate hour in Rajya Sabha, leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said, "There is doubt on fair elections".

The EVMs controversy erupted after several parties challenged the reliability of the machines after the BJP swept the Uttar Pradesh elections. Kurien said he had not allowed notices under rule 267 but allowed those who had given these notices to make brief submissions on the issue. "They are questioning the people's mandate and the Election Commission".

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Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi countered most opposition claims, by referring to recent elections such as those in Bihar, Punjab and Delhi where the BJP lost. "If victory has a glamour, defeat should have grace", he said, a comment that infuriated the opposition members who trooped into the Well raising slogans. Sophisticated software is being used to do that.

The EVMs and WPATs kept in reserve also go through the stringent protocol of First Level Checking, Randomization and Loading of Symbols in the presence of representatives of candidates/political parties.

According to a report in the Indian Express, the poll panel has chose to bring back the exercise it conducted in 2009, when similar accusations were made against EVMs. "Then why is ECI insisting on EVMs?", Mr Kejriwal tweeted.

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