NEW DELHI :
India will not abandon electronic voting machines (EVMs) and go back to the days of ballot papers, chief election commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora asserted, amid an ongoing controversy over the use of EVMs in voting.
Arora’s strong remarks on Thursday come in the backdrop of opposition parties demanding a re-look into the use of EVMs following a US-based “cyber expert" alleging that the machines can be hacked and the 2014 Lok Sabha polls were rigged.
“I would like to make it very, very clear once more...that we are not going back to the era of ballot papers and we are not going back to that era where we have ballot papers being lifted, musclemen being employed besides the delay in the counting and also too much harassment of the polling staff on the ground. We are going to stay with it," Arora said in an address during the inauguration of an international conference.
In the last two days, leaders of opposition parties like the Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), National Conference (NC) and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) have demanded a return to ballot paper particularly for the forthcoming general elections. Congress too has questioned the use of EVMs. The Election Commission (EC) has maintained its stand that EVMs are foolproof.
On Thursday, Arora added that EVMs should not be used as a “football" to further a motivated slugfest. He also said that while the Commission was open to getting feedback, he said that the poll watchdog will not get intimidated or bullied.
“We are open to any criticism, any feedback, from any stakeholders, including the political parties because they are the biggest stakeholders. At the same time, we are not going to be intimidated or bullied or pressurized or coerced into giving up these and start the era of ballot boxes," he added.
Lok Sabha polls are scheduled after nearly two months and opposition parties are likely to continue raising EVM use in their campaign.