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Ballot Papers for 2019: Mamata Banerjee Brings 17 Opposition Parties Together Against EVMs

Mamata Banerjee was heard appealing to all opposition party leaders in Parliament on Thursday to send a joint delegation to the Election Commission over reports of EVM tampering and to demand that the 2019 general election be held on ballots.

News18.com

Updated:August 2, 2018, 6:20 PM IST
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Ballot Papers for 2019: Mamata Banerjee Brings 17 Opposition Parties Together Against EVMs
Mamata Banerjee at Sonia Gandhi's residence on Wednesday. (Image: via Twitter)
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New Delhi: A bouquet of opposition parties have managed to unite on the crucial issue of using ballot papers instead of Electronic Voting Machines to conduct the Lok Sabha elections next year and have decided to approach the apex polling body to make a formal request.

According to sources, as many as 17 parties will approach the Election Commission. Those on board include the Congress, Samajwadi Party, BSP, NCP, RJD, AAP, YSR, DMK, JDS, TDP, Kerala Congress Mani, Left parties CPI and CPM and Trinamool Congress.

The parties have, however, not yet sought a date from the poll panel. First, the Congress will decide its strategy at a meeting of its highest decision making body - Congress Working Committee – this weekend and this will be followed by an all-party meeting at senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad’s house on Monday.

They are expected to approach the Election Commission sometime next week.

Sources said that consensus on the issue was built thanks to TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, who visited Delhi for two days and held a series of meetings with leaders of several opposition parties, including Rahul and Sonia Gandhi. She had come to the capital to invite them for her federal front rally in January 2019.

Banerjee was heard appealing to all opposition party leaders who visited her in the TMC office in Parliament, to send a joint delegation to the Election Commission over reports of EVM tampering and to demand that the 2019 general election be held on ballots.

"All opposition parties should go to EC on this matter. There should be a joint delegation of opposition parties to EC," Banerjee was heard telling opposition parties, including the Congress.

"This is a matter on which all opposition parties agreed. We are planning to meet next week. We plan to go to Election Commission and demand that the EC conduct the coming Lok Sabha election on ballot papers," TMC leader Derek O'Brien told reporters.

Several opposition parties have been demanding since last year that EVMs be replaced with ballot papers, alleging that the machines have been rigged to favour the ruling BJP.

This demand had gained momentum after 2017, when Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s BSP suffered huge reverses in the Uttar Pradesh elections, leading them to contend that EVMs were tampered to help the BJP.

Some parties have also said that if EVMs are to be used, the ECI should ensure that they are all equipped with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines.

In April this year, the EC had told the Supreme Court that it would introduce VVPAT machines on all polling booths across the country ahead of the 2019 General Election.

However, according to a recent newspaper report, the EC was running way behind schedule on introducing VVPAT for all polling booths ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. It said that the polling body had only managed to complete 22% of its targets as of July this year.
| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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