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Kejriwal, Maken want ballot papers in MCD polls

March 14, 2017 23:50 IST

After Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday doubted reliability of electronic voting machines as he sought use of ballot papers in next month's municipal polls in the national capital.

Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken has also written to Kejriwal and the State Election Commission, seeking use of ballot papers in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi polls.

Following a directive from Kejriwal, Delhi Chief Secretary M M Kutty, in a letter to the State Election Commission, asked it to hold the municipal elections through ballot papers.

But the Election Commission, after announcing that the polls will be held on April 22, said very little time was left to use ballot papers and that certain rules will have to be amended to shun the electronic voting machines (EVMs).

“The chief minister has directed the chief secretary to ask the state election office to hold MCD elections through ballot papers,” a source in the CM’s office said.

The move comes close on the heels of Mayawati questioning the ‘reliability’ of EVMs. She had alleged that they were tampered with in the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, where her party suffered a debacle.

Maken also threw his weight behind Kejriwal as he asked the chief minister to take steps to ensure that EVMs are not used in the elections.

‘Many are doubting EVMs-Not prejudiced-nor casting aspersions on results; I want @ArvindKejriwal to hold MCD elections through Ballot Papers,’ he had tweeted.

State Election Commissioner S K Srivastava said if the Delhi government wants voting through ballot papers, rules will have to be amended first, which he said is a time-consuming process.

Aam Aadmi Party’s Jarnail Singh, who lost to former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal from Lambi in the recent elections in that state, also demanded use of ballots in the elections ahead.

“Although we accept defeat, we have serious doubts over the results in Punjab. There are several villages in the Lambi constituency where we have received less votes than the number of volunteers we have there.

“For the first time, voter-verified paper audit trail was used in Punjab. When we asked the Returning Officer to tally the number of votes to the VVPATs, he declined to do so,” Singh said.

AAP sources said there were 33 assembly constituencies in Punjab where VVPAT was used, and that it would ask the poll panel to verify them again with the number of votes received.

They said the party had been ‘gathering evidence’ before it could officially take up the matter with the poll panel.

Where a paper trail audit or VVPAT is used, the counting agent can call for a count of the paper slips in the drop box attached to the voting machine, but the final count is taken by the Returning Officer.

Reacting to Kejriwal’s demand, Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said in that case fresh polls should be held to the 67 seats won by the AAP in the 2015 assembly polls.

“See, taking a call on this issue is the commission's job. We are ready irrespective of how the polls are held, be it through ballot papers or EVMs,” he said.

AAP’s Delhi unit convenor Dilip Pandey also raised doubts over functioning of the EVMs and demanded use of ballots in the upcoming civic body polls.

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