Congress firm on VVPAT checks, says no logical grounds for rejection of demands

Karnataka bypoll, Kumaraswamy, Siddaramaiah, Election Commission
Just three days ahead of the Delhi assembly polls, Modi, announced the formation of a trust that would oversee the construction of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya.

Slamming the Election Commission for rejecting the demands of the Opposition parties pertaining to the counting of VVPATs, the Congress on Wednesday (May 22) asserted that the VVPATs were not just for ‘ornamental and decorative purposes.’

Reacting to this, former chief election commissioner N Gopalaswami said there had not been a single incident of VVPAT-EVM mismatch in the past and that the VVPAT was an ‘unnecessary device.’

Asserting that the credibility of the EVMs cannot be questioned, Gopalaswami said, “In the last few elections where VVPATs were used in 1,498 constituencies, not a single incident of discrepancy was reported.” However, he added that if any mismatch is noticed, the EC, as per its decision, will consider the VVPAT count only for those among the five checked VVPATs and not all the machines as demanded by the Opposition.

On Tuesday (May 21), a delegation of 21 Opposition parties, which Congress leaders said represented 75 per cent of the voters across India, met the Election Commission officials and demanded that the counting of VVPATs to be done before the counting of EVMs, and if a single discrepancy is found during those five random checks, the EC must check all the VVPATs in that single Assembly constituency. However, the Election Commission has rejected the demands.

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Later on Wednesday (May 22), senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi slammed the EC saying that it has become ‘enfeebled commission’. “It’s not for ornamental and decorative purpose we are doing this exercise,” he asserted.

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Singhvi said he wants to know what can be a possible ground for rejection of this most reasonable demand. “The EC is mandatorily obliged to count five VVPATs and match them with the EVM in each Assembly segment — this is the Supreme Court’s rule. Rule 56D (which pertains to the checking of VVPATs) does not apply to this,” he added. He said the idea of VVPATs was to sample check at the beginning whether the sample is poisoned or not. “Logically, it should be done at the beginning. How can it be done after several rounds of counting are over,” asked Singhvi. No reasons have been given for the rejections, he added.

Speaking to The Federal, Gopalaswami debunked the Congress’s allegations regarding the malfunctioning of EVMs and said the problem was not with the EVMs but the mentality of the Opposition parties. “When they win, they do not make such allegations,” he said. Referring to the recent Assembly elections in five states, he said, “The Congress alleged EVM malfunctioning only in Telangana, where it lost and not in the three states where it won.”

He further pointed out that the DMK, which was an ally of the Congress in Tamil Nadu, was silent on the EVM row even though party leader Kanimozhi was part of the May 21 delegation to the EC. “Is the DMK crying foul? Are they alleging malfunction of EVMs,” he questioned. The exit polls had predicted that the DMK will sweep the Lok Sabha polls with a majority of seats in Tamil Nadu.

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