EC defers demonstration of remote EVMs after Oppositions protest

EC defers demonstration of remote EVMs after Opposition's protest

Only BJP, BJD support RVMs; representatives of all other Opposition parties point out lack of transparency, role of EC, and manipulation of EVMs, among other issues

The Election Commission (EC) was forced to defer its demonstration of remote EVMs after the Opposition parties overwhelmingly opposed the move at a meeting called by the poll panel in New Delhi on Monday.

Only the BJP and the BJD were in support of remote EVMs. Senior BJP leader Bhupendra Yadav said the party was in favour, but would present its views to the poll panel in writing. The BJD said it supports remote EVMs, but gave no arguments to back its move.

Watch | After EVMs, it’s RVMs: More questions than answers

Representatives of all other Opposition parties raised various objections on the lack of transparency, role of EC, manipulation of EVMs, etc. The meeting ended at 5 pm without the EC being able to carry out the demonstration. No date has been given as of now on when the poll panel will call the parties again to demonstrate remote EVM use.

The EC had planned to showcase the RVM prototype for migrant voters to representatives of political parties with an aim to boost voter participation of domestic migrants using remote voting. It had invited eight recognised national parties and 57 recognised state parties for the demonstration.

No consensus, says Congress

“No Opposition party wants to see the demonstration of an RVM. First the issue of the need to have such a machine should be settled,” senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh told reporters after participating in the meeting with the EC. The former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister said he felt that there would be no RVM demonstration till there is a consensus on having one. 

No political party is prepared to see the demonstration, he said. “The idea of RVM is not acceptable,” Singh said and added that the commission should address concerns about EVMs raised by eminent citizens of the country.  The EC should also address the issue of urban apathy towards the election process, the Congress leader said. 

EC cites ‘social transformation’

The RVM initiative, if implemented, can lead to a “social transformation” for migrants, the EC had said last month. Each machine can handle up to 72 constituencies, allowing migrant voters to cast their votes from a remote polling booth. Parties were also asked to give in writing their views by the end of January on issues such as changes required in the law to allow the use of RVMs. 

On Sunday, leaders of most Opposition parties decided to oppose the EC’s proposal on RVMs after a meeting facilitated by the Congress. The meeting was attended by leaders of JD(U), Shiv Sena, CPI, CPI(M), National Conference, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Peoples Democratic Party, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, Revolutionary Socialist Party, Indian Union Muslim League, as well as Independent Rajya Sabha MP and former Congress leader Kapil Sibal.

With agency inputs

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