The Congress, Trinamool Congress and several other political parties on Monday conveyed to the poll panel that they still had doubts about the credibility of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
And 70% of Political parties even demanded a return to ballot papers in the forthcoming elections.
“Many parties opposed (the idea) of ‘One Nation, One Poll’, while there were some who made valid points in favour of it,” Chief Election Officer O P Rawat told journalists after the poll panel held a consultation with political parties at Nirvachan Sadan in New Delhi.
The Congress, Trinamool Congress, TDP, DMK, AAP, JD(S), CPI, CPM and several others remained opposed to the idea.
The Opposition parties reiterated their reservations about simultaneous polls just a day after the prime minister said discussions on the same were gaining momentum. The ruling BJP and some of its allies, however, reiterated their support to the proposal.
The Election Commission had earlier this month virtually ruled out the possibility of holding simultaneous polls in 2019, citing logistical constraints and constitutional amendments.
“The lawmakers will take at least a year to frame a law (to amend the Constitution to bring One Nation, One Poll into reality) that can be enforceable. This process takes time,” the CEC said on Monday.
“Some parties have said there are problems with EVMs and VVPATs (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail devices). These views have been noted down by the commission,” said Rawat. “Some said going back to ballot is bad as it would bring back booth-capturing,” he said.
Mukul Wasnik of the Congress said that EVMs did not reflect “the will of the people”. “There have been a number of times when EVMs malfunctioned and it (the vote) went to only one party.
We want to know who is repairing the EVMs and how many of the old ones are being used. We want the VVPATs and EVMs to be checked,” he said.
“We have no faith in EVMs,” Kalyan Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress said. He demanded a return to ballot papers in the next Lok Sabha elections. Satish Mishra of the BSP and Raghav Chadha of the AAP said EVMs could be hacked.
Atul Kumar Anjan of the CPI, too, questioned the credibility of EVMs.
“We should think ahead. The Election Commission has properly replied to all questions raised about the EVMs and we should look forward. (Using the) VVPAT is a good move and it should be taken forward,” union Health Minister J P Nadda, who represented the BJP in the meeting with the EC, said.
Some political parties requested the EC to ensure counting of a certain percentage of the slips generated by the VVPATS to enhance credibility of the EVMs.
The commission assured the political parties that it was being looked into with the inputs from the experts of the Indian Statistical Institute.
The commission also informed that any candidate might approach the concerned Returning Officer for the specific count of the VVPAT paper slips of a polling station.
The Congress has been complaining about large-scale irregularities in the electoral roll in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. The chiefs of the party’s state units in the three states – Kamal Nath, Sachin Pilot and Bhupesh Baghel – of late moved the Supreme Court.
The apex court issued a notice to the EC on Thursday, asking for its response to the Congress’ allegation about the rolls of the electors in all the three states having a large number of fake and duplicate entries.
The Congress is the principal challenger to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in all the three states, which will go to polls later this year along with Mizoram.
The EC will also seek views on enhancing representation of women in the organisational structures of the political parties as well as in the role of candidates they would nominate to contest the elections to the state assemblies and the Lok Sabha.