The Rajya Sabha will debate electoral reforms on Wednesday following notices given by 12 Opposition parties. This is one of the first synchronised effort by the Opposition to come up with a coordinated floor strategy after the recent debacle in the Lok Sabha election.
The notices were given by the Congress, Trinamool Congress, RJD, SP, BSP, AAP, CPI, CPI(M), DMK, Kerala Congress(M), IUML and NCP. BJP MP R.K. Sinha too had given notice.
The ruling party is pushing for the “One nation, one election” idea whereas the Opposition wants to raise discrepancies in the EVM. Last Wednesday, key Opposition parties had an informal meeting on the subject with Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad. According to sources, Satish Chandra Mishra of the BSP will be raising the issue of EVMs and the need to go back to the paper ballot. The party has been consistently critical of the EVMs, with BSP chief Mayawati blaming the election results squarely on “tampered” EVMs.
The Opposition parties have been demanding that at least 50% of the voter verified paper trail (VVPAT) entries should be tallied with the EVM counts in every constituency. And the VVPATs should be counted first instead of the EVMs.
They had raised both these demands with the Election Commission on May 21, just two days before the election results. The EC, however, refused to accept their demand.
Other than the EVMs, the parties are expected to ask for state funding for polls as recommended by the Indrajit Gupta report of 1998 and raise the issue of misuse of social media such as Facebook during the elections.
“We have spoken to one another since there is limited time. Each party will take up designated issues for a comprehensive debate,” a top Opposition leader said.
In the 16th Lok Sabha, the Opposition usually held 10 a.m. coordination meetings to discuss strategies to counter the government on various issues.
But after the election results, Opposition parties are yet to come together as the Congress finds itself in disarray with its ongoing leadership crisis.