New Delhi: Former President Pranab Mukherjee Tuesday expressed concern over reports of alleged tampering of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM), saying people’s mandate is sacrosanct and that the onus is on the Election Commission to put all such speculation to rest.
Mukherjee’s remarks came on a day when reports of EVMs being transported in cars in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab and Haryana emerged along with video clips, just two days ahead of the counting of votes Thursday.
Issuing a statement on Twitter, Mukherjee said, “I am concerned at reports of alleged tampering of voters’ verdict. The safety and security of EVMs which are in the custody of ECI is the responsibility of the Commission.”
— Pranab Mukherjee (@CitiznMukherjee) May 21, 2019
“There can be no room for speculations that challenge the very basis of our democracy. People’s mandate is sacrosanct and has to be above any iota of reasonable doubt,” the veteran Congress leader said.
“The onus of ensuring institutional integrity in this case (security of EVMs) lies with the Election Commission of India (ECI). They must do so and put all speculations to rest.”
The former President said, as a firm believer in the country’s institutions, it was his considered opinion that it is the ‘workmen’ who decide how the institutional ‘tools’ perform.
Mukherjee Monday at a book launch event had, however, praised the Election Commission for conducting the polls in a “perfect manner”.
EC under scanner
The Election Commission also came in for severe criticism from the opposition parties for allegedly not ensuring free and fair polls in the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections.
The opposition had slammed the poll panel for handing out several clean chits to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah for their election speeches.
One of the Election Commissioners, Ashok Lavasa, who stood up against the clean chits given to Modi and Shah, had even boycotted meetings as his dissent was not recorded in orders.
Opposition parties raise concerns over EVMs
Leaders of as many as 22 opposition parties met the Election Commission officials in the national capital Tuesday to raise concerns over reports of alleged tampering of voting machines.
Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader and Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien said in case of any mismatch with EVM figures, there should be 100 per cent counting of all VVPAT paper slips in that particular Assembly segment.
The parties that raised the EVM issue were the Congress, Telugu Desam Party, TMC, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Nationalist Congress Party, National Conference, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Communist Party of India, among others.
The leaders also demanded the paper slips of VVPATs and EVM figures should be tallied in the beginning of the counting and not in the end, which is the current practice.