Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Thursday expressed complete faith in electronic voting machines (EVMs) and asserted that the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government does not want the use of ballot papers in elections.
Interacting with reporters in the city, Mr. Pawar, a senior NCP leader, said EVMs work fine, but they have become the target of criticism from the losing sides in elections. There is no discussion within the government to bring in ballot papers.
“Everything is fine with people in any party if they get the majority. But they start alleging that EVMs were manipulated if they get routed. EVMs are working fine. Work becomes paperless. What can I say... I have faith in EVMs,” Mr. Pawar said.
Before resigning as Speaker, Nana Patole, now State Congress chief, had directed the Law and Judiciary Department to frame a law to give voters the option of using ballot papers besides EVMs in local governing bodies and Assembly polls.
Mr. Patole issued the instruction during a meeting held earlier this month after complaints about alleged EVM tampering in polls.
When asked about Mr. Patole’s instruction, Mr. Pawar said, “Each individual can have a different view. They think that way and I have said what I feel.” Speaking about the government’s official stand on the issue, Mr. Pawar said the MVA dispensation, in which the Shiv Sena and the Congress are the other two constituents, “absolutely does not” want the use of ballot papers.
Mr. Patole said there were differing views on the issue, but he stands by his demand as it is within the ambit of the Constitution. He said Article 328 gives State governments the right to decide how elections should be conducted within the State.
“We are not asking to scrap EVMs. We are only seeking the ballot paper as an option along with EVMs. If Ajit dada wants to vote using EVMs, he can. If someone else wants to vote on paper, then that person should have that option,” he said.
Patole to take charge today
Mr. Patole will take charge as Maharashtra Congress chief at a public meeting at August Kranti Maidan on Friday.
He will first attend a public rally from Hutatma Chowk in Fort, where he will pay tributes to the martyrs of the Samyukta Maharashtra movement. He will then head to Girgaum chowpatty on a tractor to highlight the party’s opposition to the three farm laws.
After paying floral tributes to the statues of Lokmanya Tilak and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Mr. Patole and other Congress leaders will travel to August Kranti Maidan on a bullock cart as a mark of protest against the rising prices of fuel and essential commodities.
On Thursday, Mr. Patole and other Congress leaders visited places of worship of all religions in Mumbai.