Hours ahead of the party meeting called by the Election Commission later today, Congress has once again appealed to EC that the next Lok Sabha polls be held on ballot paper. According to reports, Congress has written a letter to the commission to request that 2019 Lok Sabha election be held through voting paper ballots for transparent elections in the country.
This is a continuation of its long-standing position that faulty EVMs have been sacrificing democracy at the alter of elections. The Congress, however, is not the only party that has raised questions against EVMs Opposition parties like Trinamool Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party, Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Samajwadi Party, CPI-M, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), DMK, CPI, YSR Congress, Kerala Congress Mani (KCM) and AIUDF too have raised similar concerns. Even NDA ally Shiv Sena has questioned EVMs.
Many of these political parties are expected to once again raise their doubts against EVMs when their representatives meet with EC officials today.
The meeting, expected to be attended by seven national and 51 regional parties, will discuss preparations for the Lok Sabha polls due next year.
In a similar meeting held last year, the EC had assured parties that paper trail machines would be used in all polling stations. The EC would also update them about the decision.
At least 17 opposition parties have come together to make a fresh demand that voters in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections exercise their franchise by stamping the ballot paper, not pressing the button on EVMs.
In a press release on Friday, the Commission said considering that political parties are stakeholders in the Indian electoral system, it has been periodically holding consultations with all recognised political parties to elicit their views on important issues and to strengthen the democratic system by improving electoral systems and practices.
The Commission will also bring up the issue of fidelity of electoral rolls and will have the views of improve the accuracy, transparency and inclusivity in the system. It will also invite views that parties can undertake to enhance representation of women within the organisational structure of the political party as well as in the candidate selection for contesting elections to legislative bodies.
The issue of election expenditure, regulation, expenditure ceiling for legislative council election and limiting political parties expenditure would also be discussed. Discussion on enforcement measures to ensure timely submission of annual audited reports and election expenditure reports are also on the agenda.
The panel will also discuss the election campaign silence period in the meeting. The discussion on this topic would also cover inclusion of print media within the ambit of the provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and the issue of online canvassing to promote or prejudice the electoral prospects of a party or candidate on social media during last 48 hours before conclusion of polling.
Important issues like alternative modes of voting for domestic migrants and absentee voters, and the views and feedback of the political parties regarding efforts to encourage participation of voters with disabilities will also be discussed.
(With inputs from agencies)