Congress leader Jairam Ramesh writes to CEC requesting time for INDIA bloc to express its view on VVPAT slips

In letter to CEC Rajiv Kumar, he says alliance parties had sought an appointment on December 20 as well to ‘discuss and provide suggestions on use of VVPATs’

Updated - January 02, 2024 10:51 pm IST

Published - January 02, 2024 11:35 am IST - New Delhi

File picture of Congress leader Jairam Ramesh

File picture of Congress leader Jairam Ramesh | Photo Credit: PTI

Congress general secretary (communication) Jairam Ramesh has written to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar requesting that a delegation of Indian National Developmental, Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) be given an appointment so that they can forward their views on voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) slips.

In his letter to Mr. Kumar, written on December 30 but made public on January 2, Mr. Ramesh said that leaders of the INDIA bloc had sought an appointment with the Election Commission (EC) on December 20 as well to “discuss and provide suggestions on the use of VVPATs”.

‘Integrity of EVM functioning’

On December 19, at the fourth meeting of the Opposition alliance, parties had passed a resolution, saying there are many doubts about the integrity of the functioning of electronic voting machines (EVMs). The Opposition parties said VVPAT slips should be handed over to voters, who should drop it in a separate box, and there should be 100 per cent matching of slips and the EVMs.

“We have been trying to meet with the ECI to hand over a copy of this resolution and have a discussion but have not been successful so far in doing so,” Mr. Ramesh said.

“I once again make a request for an opportunity for a 3-4 member team of INDIA party leaders to meet with you and your colleagues and take a few minutes to put forward our point of view on VVPATs,” he said.

The Congress leader also pointed out that on August 9, 2023, a memorandum had been submitted to the EC on EVM-related concerns of INDIA parties.

“On August 23, 2023, ECI issued a clarification to our counsel on the memorandum. This clarification was generic in nature and (i) directed us to refer to the standard FAQs on EVMs available on ECI website; (ii) explained the legal backing for EVMs through Section 61A of the Representation of Peoples’ Act, 1951; (iii) summarised judgments of High Courts and the Supreme Court on issue of EVMs; (iv) provided a chart of assembly and parliamentary election results since 2004 to show that the political party winning the maximum number of seats changed several times,” Mr. Ramesh said.

He added that on October 2 last year, a follow-up representation was sent by the Opposition bloc through a counsel raising specific concerns, which remained unaddressed in the election body’s clarification issued on August 23, 2023.

Mr. Ramesh said neither a response has been received nor an appointment given for a meeting.

According to the EC, mandatory verification of printed VVPAT slips of five randomly selected polling stations of each Assembly segment is done in case of election to the Lok Sabha before declaring results.

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