BJP for EVMs, other parties demand ballot papers in Assembly elections

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 01 Sep 2018 11:33:22



\Staff Reporter


Expressing doubts on the State Government machinery towards conducting free and fair polls during the forthcoming Assembly elections, almost all political parties, apart from Bharatiya Janata Party, have demanded to abolish Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) and reintroduce ballot papers.

The full Election Commission comprising of Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat and Election Commissioners Sunil Arora and Ashok Lavasa along with their 10-member team held meetings with the representatives of various political parties at New Circuit House here on Friday.

Bharatiya Janata Party delegation led by Srichand Sundrani, Naresh Gupta, Rajiv Agrawal and J P Chandrawanshi submitted a nine point memorandum to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) demanding to conduct Assembly elections in 3 phases citing difficult topography in the state. They also demanded that extra time should be given for getting name enrolled in voter lists and correction of errors in voter ID cards apart from demanding copies of all notifications and circulars issued like re-organisation of polling booths, revision of polling booths situated in sensitive and hyper-sensitive areas, revision of electoral rolls, etc. for all political parties.

In their memo they demanded that ECI should permit enrolling new names in voter list till September 15, 2018. They said that for ensuring free and fair elections, the polling should be held in three phases as the state comprises of difficult terrains. While carrying out re-organisation process of polling booths, it should be ensured that the voter needn’t to travel a long distance for exercising their franchise. The BJP also demanded that the polling booths in hyper-sensitive and sensitive areas should be shifted to peaceful and open areas so that voters can exercise their franchise without any fear.

The BJP maintained that voters from some areas have been shifted to new areas due to obvious reasons. Hence the names of such voters should be deleted from old area and should be enrolled in new areas, accordingly directives should be issued to respective District Electoral Officer. In present times, the voters are already aware about their polling rights and they want to exercise their franchise. However, whenever voters come to polling booths, they find huge queues and they return without voting. Hence the polling booths should be organised in such a way that long queues could be avoided. They also demanded that a polling booth shouldn’t comprise of more than 700 voters and the remaining voters should be shifted to their nearest polling booths. The BJP delegation pointed out that there are huge complaints of wrong addresses both in voter lists and Voter ID cards, which should be rectified.
Congress which is the principal opposition party in Chhattisgarh, also submitted a nine point memorandum to the ECI demanding that polling should be held in a single phase only, so that the voters in the state cannot be influenced. While demanding immediate check on implementation of schemes like Mukhyamantri MGNREGA Mazdoor Tiffin Vitaran Yojana and Sanchar Kranti Yojna, the Congress delegation said that the state government which is selling liquor by itself, should make liquor stocks public. They also demanded that instead of EVMs, ballot papers should be used for polling. They also demanded that whenever EVMs are transported to polling booths through helicopters in LWE affected areas, a Congress agent should be allowed as there are apprehensions that EVMs might be tampered during this transportation process. Congress Legislator Mohan Markam claimed that bogus voting to the tune of 70 per cent was carried out in polling booths which generally register zero polling.

Representatives from other opposition parties like Communist Party of India (M), Communist Party of India (ML), Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal United, Aam Aadmi Party, Chhattisgarh Swabhiman Manch, Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party demanded full proof security in LWE affected districts including Bastar region. The representatives of these political parties apprised the Chief Election Commissioner that following lack of security measures voters in these areas are reluctant to vote following Naxal threats.

Janta Congress Chhattisgarh (Jogi) party also submitted a nine-point memorandum to the Election Commission. Representing the party, Tilak Ram Dewangan, Vikas Dubey and Sanjeev Agrawal demanded polling in three phases. They also demanded complete liquor ban one month ahead of polls or the ECI should take over all liquor shops and plants in Chhattisgarh under its control. They also demanded putting a check on mobile and tiffin distribution schemes apart from demanding extending of name enrolling process till September 15. They also demanded video recording of polling process in LWE affected areas particularly in the hyper sensitive and sensitive booths.

CPI (M) polite bureau member Dharamraj Mahapatra informed that party has firmly put its demand for use of ballot papers during the polls and check-on misuse of government machinery during election campaign. ‘Use of EVM is big issue because it can be tampered and ruling government has advantage’, he said.

Likewise, Bahujan Samaj Party State President O P Bajpai alleged that ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government is encouraging senior government officials to join the party for their vested interest. He appealed to CEC to put a check on this practice. The BSP also demanded that liquor should be banned as soon as model code of conduct comes to force. Also the cost of pandals and canopies erected outside 100 mts range from polling booths should be added into the election expenses of candidates.

Samajwadi Party State President Tanveer Ahmed emphasised on security measures during the polls. He urged CEC to ensure full proof security especially in naxal infested areas of the state. Following naxal threats people are not coming out for voting and also furnished the poll percentage details of 2013 assembly polls of these areas. Ahmed said that there are apprehension among the political parties and people over the misuse of EVMs to manipulate the outcome of popular verdict in Chhattisgarh. To ensure the credibility of the electoral process, EC should revert to the old practice of paper ballot.

Nationalist Congress Party representatives Satish Jaggi and three others in their memo to the CEC demanded that election should be conducted in 3 phases but should be conducted through ballot papers. Citing examples of USA and Japan, they said ballot papers are used in these countries. They also urged the Commission to check the veracity of newly enrolled persons. They also demanded that in case EVMs are used, polling should be immediately cancelled in booths where reports of EVM malfunctioning are reported and re-polling should be ordered.