Ahead of 2019 general elections, as many as 17 political parties have decided to reach out the Election Commission of India (ECI), demanding the upcoming Lok Sabha elections be conducted on ballot paper instead of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
"17 political parties likely to approach Election Commission of India (ECI), demanding 2019 general elections be conducted on the ballot paper," the news agency ANI reported.
If the latest media reports turn out to be true, the Opposition would seek time with the ECI next week and discuss the matter.
The development came days after the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party was criticised by the Opposition for tampering the EVM machines in a bid to tilt poll results to their favour.
Expressing his distrust in EVMs, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has also requested party leaders to be on alert, adding that, "The central government is taking all systems including the Election Commission into its control. There is a possibility of misusing the EVMs. Party should be very careful in this regard".
Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav has also pitched the idea of the ballot paper and said, "There is growing mistrust (over EVMs) in people. They don't trust the machines anymore. We demand that future elections should be conducted on ballot paper".
The Shiv Sena, despite being a part of the NDA fold, has been critical of estranged ally BJP and said that just one time, the Saffron party should head into elections with ballot papers and not EVMs and only then all the apprehensions will go away.
The BJP-led government, however, has downplayed that criticism and termed Opposition's attempt to cover up their own defeat in elections.
Rubbishing the reports of manipulation, ECI also said that a large number of EVMs and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) of around 20-25 per cent were kept available to replace any defective machine on the election day at the polling booth.
Normally these reserved EVMs/VVPATs are kept with sector officers, who replace the defective ones if reports of malfunctions came in from any polling station.
The ECI further noted that the replacement of defective EVMs or VVPATs during actual polls is a normal process and does not vitiate the integrity or credibility of the poll process in any way whatsoever.