Bhopal: A delegation of Congress leaders, led by vice president Chandra Prabhash Shekhar, met State Election Commissioner BP Singh in Bhopal on Tuesday and urged him to conduct the upcoming local body elections through paper ballots.
Shekhar told reporters that though the last local body polls were held through electronic voting machines (EVMs), the performance of these machines weren’t satisfactory during the last Assembly and parliamentary elections across the state.
Soon after, BJP leaders hit back saying the Congress-led government in the state should first resign before urging the polling body to conduct the next elections on paper ballots.
“A government elected through EVMs should first resign and then seek local body polls through paper ballots,” said BJP spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal.
Accusing the ruling camp of trying to secure the mandate in the upcoming polls through muscle power and ‘jugad’ (unfair means), he said, “We won’t let this to happen.”
“If possible, the party in power would ask voters to raise their hands in the dark and on the basis of this, declare the results,” Agrawal said.
He then cited examples of how paper ballots can be manipulated easily. If the seal put on the paper mistakenly touches the area assigned for the next or previous symbol, the vote stands cancelled, he said. Similarly, in case the ballot paper is folded and the inked seal touches another symbol, the vote is cancelled.
Further hitting out at the government, he said while Chief Minister Kamal Nath and his ministers continue to complain about lack of funds, it seems ready to splurge money on paper ballots.
BJP state president Rakesh Singh said the Congress move indicated that it wanted to win the urban body polls through unfair means.
The Congress’ demand for use of ballot papers came close on the heels of the party success in the local body polls held in neighbouring Chhattisgarh through ballot papers.
Earlier too, the MP Congress had blamed the EVMs for its candidates’ defeats in the last Lok Sabha elections, where it ended up winning only one of the 29 seats. Several losing candidates of the party have moved the high court over the issue.
The schedule for the upcoming elections is yet to be announced in the state, even though the local bodies have completed their five-year tenure in December last year.
The state government recently appointed administrators to look after the functioning of these urban local bodies, a move that has been sharply criticised by the BJP, which called it an attempt to rig the upcoming polls.