Congress questions govt.’s ability to provide VVPATs by 2019 elections

New Delhi [India] Apr 20 : With the Election Commission's decision to monitor production of the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) by the 2019 assembly elections, the Congress Party on Thursday questioned the government's ability of providing these machines.

"We need at least 16 lakh Paper Trail machines before the 2019 elections. Whether the government will be able to fulfill the target or not is a crucial question. It's a much wider issue and for the purity of election process it is essential. If the EVMs are not functionally accurate then they cannot be used," Congress leader K.C. Mittal told ANI. He further said the issue needs to be investigated by expert committees. "In the 2014 parliamentary elections I had raised objections. There is something wrong with the EVMs. The Uttar Pradesh Election Commissioner says he cannot hold municipal elections with the earlier EVMs.

Then why were the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh held on the same EVMs? These questions need to be answered," he added.

Meanwhile, Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav said he welcomes the debate on ongoing EVM issue, adding the order by the Supreme Court came much earlier.

"The Election Commission wrote several letters regarding the issue and I am glad that the government has accepted it," he added.

The Election Commission yesterday said it would closely monitor production of the VVPAT for timely delivery well before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The Cabinet approved the Election Commission's proposal of the VVPAT machines. The Cabinet allowed purchase of 16, 15,000 VVPAT units at a tentative unit cost of Rs.19, 650, and at a total estimated cost of Rs.

3173.47 crore (excluding taxes and freight as applicable) during the years 2017-18 and 2018-19. The decision of the government would enable the Election Commission to deploy VVPAT in all pooling booths in the 2019 general elections, which will act as an additional layer of transparency for the satisfaction of voters, allaying any apprehension in the minds of the voters as to the fidelity and integrity of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

The demand for VVPAT had been vociferously made by opposition parties after the recently held assembly polls, alleging that the EVMs were tampered.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress had attacked the EC for allegedly using "tampered" EVMs.

VVPAT is a machine which dispenses a slip with the symbol of the party for which a person has voted for.

The slip drops in a box but the voter cannot take it home. The voters see voter-verifiable paper audit trail slip for seven seconds, which would be an acknowledgement receipt for the party they voted for in the election.

Source: ANI