Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday demanded that all future elections be conducted through ballot papers as ‘electronic voting machines cannot be relied upon’ and said there should be a coalition between all parties to fight the Bharatiya Janata Party.
“When will EVMs develop a snag no one can tell ... When will the software fail ... Machines cannot be relied upon. We do not have faith in EVMs,” Akhilesh told news persons in Lucknow.
“We have 100 per cent faith in our ballot papers and it is our demand that future elections are held using them ... We do not want to go into whether EVMs are good or bad,” the former UP chief minister said.
“Questions are being raised on the EVMs. People are yet to come to terms with the fact that they pressed the button against the cycle (SP election symbol) on the EVMs, but vote went to the BJP.
“The Election Commission should tell how the EVMs develop technical snag. Who is making the software of these EVMs? The poor people of the state said they had voted for the SP, then how come it did not get the votes?” Akhilesh asked.
On forming a coalition of political parties against the BJP, he said if any such coalition is formed, the SP will play an important role in it.
“There should be a coalition, which can pave the way forward. We are ready to welcome it. We had welcomed such a move earlier too,” he said.
Akhilesh said people feel that they have been misled (by the Bharatiya Janata Party) for forming the government.
“The entire election was fought by spreading hatred in the name of caste and religion ... The votes were taken by promising benefits in the name of caste and religion,” he said.
The SP chief also launched a two-month membership drive of his party aimed at reaching out to ‘maximum’ people from all sections of the society.
“Through this membership drive we will tell people about works done and programmes started by the SP government,” he said, adding that besides traditional means, members will be enrolled through missed calls and social media.
On the Yogi Adityanath government’s announcement to provide power for 24 hours in district headquarters, 20 hours in Bundelkhand and 18 hours in villages, Akhilesh said as of now power is being given through power sub-stations, transformers and distribution lines installed by the SP government ‘which had done a lot of work in the power sector’.
The SP chief said time has not come for his party to oppose the BJP government.
“We will oppose only when the BJP government will have its budget and will run its schemes,” he said.
Asked about the law and order situation in the state, he cited media reports about a man being set on fire in a car in Gorakhpur.
“Had such an incident taken place during the SP government, the media would have made it a big issue ... Which crime is not taking place ... police are being beaten up,” he said, adding that many people are being harassed in the name of anti-Romeo campaign.
Taking a jibe at the BJP, Akhilesh said, “Did we not make any law for protection of cows? You go to our villages, there are cows. These BJP people do not consider us Hindus. We have to ask whether we are Hindus or not. Now I think that I have to tweet my photo first at the entrance of the temple before I move in to offer my prayers.”
Akhilesh went on to say, “And then, I have to change the colour of clothes as per days of the week. Till now, I had been wearing a white kurta and black sadri.”
Sharpening his attack on the BJP, the former UP CM said, “I think that now I have to get seven kurtas of different colours stitched, so that I could prove that today is the day of Lord Shiva. Today is Thursday, hence I am wearing yellow- coloured clothes. On Saturday, I am wearing blue coloured clothes.”
Meanwhile, the BJP said on Saturday that instead of crying foul over the EVMs, the Samajwadi Party should realise that people of Uttar Pradesh have rejected it.
The BJP, which decimated opposition to secure a thumping majority in UP assembly polls recently, said it seemed that the former chief minister does not have any faith either in the EVMs or the mandate of the state's voters.
“It seems that Akhilesh Yadav does not have any faith in the EVMs (electronic voting machines), the mandate of the people of UP, his father (SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav) or his uncle (former Shivpal Singh Yadav)," BJP's UP unit spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi said.
He said that instead of crying foul over the EVMs, the SP should try to come to terms with the reality that the people of the state have rejected it.
IMAGE: Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav addressing a press conference at party office in Lucknow on Saturday. Photograph: Nand Kumar/PTI Photo