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Posted at: May 22, 2019, 7:07 AM; last updated: May 22, 2019, 7:07 AM (IST)

Verify VVPAT before result: Oppn

Leaders of 19 anti-BJP parties call on EC officials, poll panel decision today
Verify VVPAT before result: Oppn
(From L) TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu, AAP president Arvind Kejriwal, TMC’s Derek O’ Brien, DMK’s Kanimozhi, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, CPI’s D Raja and other Opposition leaders after meeting the EC at Nirvachan Sadan. Manans Ranjan Bhui

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 21

The Election Commission will tomorrow decide whether to accede to the Opposition’s demand of EVM-VVPAT sample matching in five polling stations before commencing the counting exercise across each assembly segment on May 23.

The assurance came after leaders of 19 anti-BJP parties petitioned the EC seeking sample checks in advance to avoid vitiation of counting process in an entire assembly constituency at a later stage.

Congress-led Opposition’s argument, articulated by Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, was that there was no point in conducting random checks after concluding the counting in a given assembly segment because no remedy would be available for any potential discrepancy once the counting had concluded.

“Our point is simple. If any discrepancies emerge during EVM and VVPAT matching in any of the five polling stations of a given assembly segment, the EC should conduct matching of the machine with paper trail in all polling stations of the segment in question. This alone will provide a credible redressal. Once a mismatch is found in random check, it shows the outcome is vitiated. One poisoned sample indicates the vitiation of the whole universe. This can only be prevented if the EC conducts random matching of chosen samples before it starts the counting of results in a given assembly segment,” Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.

The EC has so far argued that the counting will take place first and the VVPATs will be seen later. The Opposition is against this as it fuels the anti-EVM narrative on the eve of counting of votes for the 17th Lok Sabha on May 23.

“We have asked the EC to match the results of EVMs and VVPATs in five polling stations per assembly constituency first. We have sought matching in 100% polling stations if even one result is found mismatched,” Azad told The Tribune.

Opposition leaders asked the EC why EVM and VVPAT matching should be a problem when Rs 9,000 crore was spent by the government to link every machine with paper trail.

A consensus on the demand of conducting random checks at five polling stations first was reached at a meeting of 19 Opposition leaders at the Constitution Club here.

They later drafted a memorandum signed by Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ashok Gehlot and Singhvi of the Congress; N Chandrababu Naidu of the TDP; Arvind Kejriwal of AAP; Satish Mishra of the BSP; Ram Gopal Yadav of the SP; Derek O Brien of the TMC; Sitaram Yechury of the CPM; D Raja of the CPI; Kanimozhi of the DMK; Praful Patel of the NCP; Manoj Jha of the RJD; and D Kupendra Reddy of the JDS.

Also among the petitioners were RLD, JMM, LJD, Devendra Rana of National Conference, National People’s Front and Hindustani Awam Morcha.

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