Jairam Ramesh seeks CEC's time for INDIA bloc leaders to discuss VVPATs | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Jairam Ramesh seeks CEC's time for INDIA bloc leaders to discuss VVPATs: ‘Perfectly reasonable request’

Jan 02, 2024 11:29 AM IST

Ramesh's letter comes days after the opposition INDIA bloc suggested that VVPAT slips be handed over to voters and its 100 per cent counting done later.

The Congress party has reiterated its request for a meeting with Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar to discuss the opposition's concerns over the handling of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and voter verified paper audit trails (VVPATs).

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh.(PTI)
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh.(PTI)

In a letter addressed to the CEC, senior Congress leader and party's general secretary in charge of communications, Jairam Ramesh, highlighted a series of communications dating back to August 9, 2023, when a memorandum outlining EVM-related concerns of various political parties was submitted to the ECI.

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Despite several subsequent requests for a meeting, Ramesh said, no audience or hearing was granted to the delegation representing the opposition parties.

The ECI issued a generic clarification in response to the memorandum but did not address the specific concerns raised by the political parties, and no meeting was arranged despite their repeated requests, the Rajya Sabha member added.

“On October 2nd, 2023 a follow-up representation was sent by us through counsel. The representation raised specific concerns which remained unaddressed in the ECI's clarification of August 23rd, 2023. No response was received on the same,” he wrote.

On December 20th, 2023 we again requested for an appointment with the ECI to "discuss and provide suggestions on the use of VVPATS" based on a resolution passed at meeting of leaders of INDIA parties held the previous day. We have been trying to meet with the ECI to hand over a copy of this resolution and have a discussion but have not been successful so far in doing so.

On October 2, 2023 a follow-up representation was sent by us through counsel, Ramesh pointed out.

The representation raised specific concerns which remained unaddressed in the ECI's clarification of August 23, 2023, he said and added that no response was received on the same.

“We have been trying to meet with the ECI to hand over a copy of this resolution and have a discussion but have not been successful so far in doing so,” he said.

“I once again make a request for an opportunity for a 3-4 member team of INDIA party leaders to meet with you and your colleagues and take a few minutes to put forward our point of view on VVPATS. Surely, this is a perfectly reasonable and legitimate request.”

Leaders of several opposition parties had deliberated on the issue of EVMs, especially after the recent victories of the BJP in the state assembly elections, and felt that the entire opposition coalition should raise the matter unitedly before the people.

According to the Election Commission, mandatory verification of printed voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) slips of five randomly selected polling stations of each assembly constituency or each assembly segment is done in case of election to the House of the People before declaring results.

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