A day after the Bharatiya Janata Party swept the Uttar Pradesh civic polls, opposition parties on Saturday demanded that all elections in the future be held through ballot papers instead of electronic voting machines.
Bahujan Samaj Party's chief Mayawati, who had in March raised doubts over EVMs after the assembly elections, threw an open challenge to the BJP to hold the 2019 Lok Sabha polls using ballot papers.
Samajwadi Party (SP) spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary alleged that the BJP again misused EVMs to win 14 mayoral contests and reiterated the demand that ballot paper be used in the future elections.
SP national president Akhilesh Yadav tweeted: 'BJP has only won 15 per cent seats in Ballot paper areas and 46 per cent in EVM areas.'
Though the BSP managed to bag two mayoral seats -- Aligarh and Meerut -- the SP and the Congress drew a blank.
The BJP won 14 of the total 16 mayoral seats.
Earlier in the morning, Mayawati said 'with full confidence' that the saffron party would be defeated in the general elections due in 2019 if ballot papers were used in place of EVMs.
"If the BJP claims that they enjoy the mandate of the people and the entire country is with them, then they should set aside EVMs and hold elections through ballot paper. And, I can say with full confidence that if the 2019 Lok Sabha polls are held using ballot paper, they (the BJP) will not come to power," Mayawati claimed.
"We fought the urban local body polls in Uttar Pradesh on party symbol and I am happy to say that along with the Dalits, people belonging to backward castes, upper castes and minorities, especially Muslims, also voted for us in large numbers," she claimed.
Mayawati alleged that the government machinery was 'misused' in the urban local body polls.
"Otherwise, more of our candidates would have become mayors in the state...and we would have won more seats," she said.
Rajendra Chaudhary also slammed the BJP for 'misusing official machinery' and alleged the party misinformed the masses about its victory in the elections.
"The BJP claimed that it had won the civic polls when actually it had lost it," Chaudhary said, adding that of the total 654 candidates for mayoral seats and chairpersons of nagar palika and nagar panchayats, the BJP lost in 470 places.
Of the total 11,994 BJP candidates for elections to municipal wards in the three-tier civic polls, 9,812 lost, he said.
The Congress which once again failed to make a mark also compared the performance of the ruling party where elections were held through EVMs with those where ballot papers were used.
Senior Congress leader Deepak Singh said, "The BJP won 14 out of the 16 mayoral seats in which elections were held using EVMs. But, it lost most of the seats where election was held using ballot paper."
'The BJP (and its allies), which had won 73 out of the 80 Lok Sabha seats and 325 out of 403 assembly seats in UP, could manage to win only 184 out of 652 seats in the UP urban local body polls. This is barely 28 per cent, which is less than the passing percentage of 33. Then why there is so much of halla (noise) about this?' Singh said in a statement.
Singh also said the results itself explain that the BJP's mandate in the urban local body elections had decreased, while the vote share of the Congress had gone up.
The BJP, however, termed 'baseless' the allegations of opposition parties pertaining to the misuse of official machinery.
UP BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey said opposition parties were indulging in propaganda only to hide their disappointment following the electoral losses.
In a statement issued by the UP BJP on Saturday, Pandey said, "The BSP mayoral candidates won in Aligarh and Meerut, where EVMs were used. And it was because of the EVMs that Mayawati came to power in 2007 in UP, while Akhilesh emerged victorious in 2012."
"Misusing the official government machinery is actually part of the SP, BSP and Congress culture. The voters have given a befitting reply to the baseless allegations levelled by them. The three parties are indulging in this propaganda to hide their disappointment following the electoral losses," he added.