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Posted at: May 21, 2019, 12:33 PM; last updated: May 22, 2019, 6:58 AM (IST)

Oppn leaders meet EC officials, seek verification of VVPAT slips before counting

Tribune News Service 
New Delhi, May 21

Leaders of as many as 22 opposition parties met the Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday and demanded verification of VVPAT slips of randomly-selected polling stations before the counting of the votes polled in the just-concluded Lok Sabha election begins on May 23.

Earlier, the opposition parties met to discuss the post May 23 scenario. Telugu Desam Party chief Chandrababu Naidu, Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Abhishek Singhvi; Trinamool Congress party’s Derek O Brien, Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav, Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s Sitaram Yechury, Communist Party of India’s D Raja, Nationalist Congress Party’s Praful Patel, National Conference’s Devendra Rana and Dravida Munnetra Kazagham’s Kanimozhi, among others attended the meeting after which all the leaders reached the EC to make their demands.

They also demanded that if any discrepancy is found during VVPAT verification, 100 per cent counting of the paper slips of VVPATs of all polling stations of that particular Assembly segment should be done and compared with the electronic voting machine (EVM) results.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed another petition demanding EVM and VVPAT matching in 100 per cent cases, but the court had said in a previous order that matching in five polling booths per assembly segment instead of the previous one poll station was adequate to allay all apprehensions.

“We told the EC that the VVPAT machines should be counted first and if there is any discrepancy, then all of them in that  segment should be counted. During elections, there were many EVMs which malfunctioned and in many cases, when votes for one political party were cast, it showed votes for some other party, specially the BJP.

“These things we have told the EC. We, in the last three-four years have been complaining about the EVMs in Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and even in states,” Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters here after meeting EC officials.

Azad’s party colleague Abhishek Singhvi said despite requests to the EC since months, the poll body has now said it will meet on Wednesday to discuss the issue.

“Even if the EC disagrees with us, then they should consider that 75 per cent of the electorate represented by these 22 parties is before you how does it matter if they change the rules? It will be only a change in guideline or procedure. It is a no-brainer. The EC has not decided for six weeks and now they are saying they will decide tomorrow,” Singhvi said.

 “We are asking the EC to respect the mandate of the people. It cannot be manipulated. If there is a blood test and it shows some discrepancy, then the whole body should be scanned. Similarly, we demand that if discrepancy shows up in one VVPAT, then all of them in that assembly segment should be counted,” Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief Chandrababu Naidu told reporters.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Satish Chandra Mishra alleged that “there is large-scale bungling relating to EVMs in Uttar Pradesh. We demand deployment of central forces”.

The opposition parties also raised concerns over the transportation of EVMs ahead of counting of votes and urged the EC to probe the issue. 

The counting of votes for Lok Sabha polls will be held on May 23.

The ruling BJP meanwhile said the opposition was preparing ground for defeat after all exit polls pointed towards an NDA win. With agencies

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