BHOPAL, May 12: Amid the raging debate over reliability of electronic voting machines, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Friday termed the doubts raised by various parties as “unfounded”.
He also appealed to all parties to deliberate on holding the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections simultaneously.
“All the talk about EVMs is unfounded. When they got 67 seats in the assembly elections in Delhi, they did not raise any questions about its credibility,” Chouhan told PTI in an interview, referring to the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party.
Chouhan said BJP, at that time, had not made an issue out of EVMs, despite winning just three seats.
“Instead, I urge all parties to deliberate on the issue of holding Lok Sabha and assembly polls simultaneously in states, as doing so will save a lot of time and money of everyone, including political parties and people,” the chief minister said.
Citing his own experience, Chouhan, who has been serving as chief minister since 2005, argued the case for holding of assembly and Lok Sabha polls together.
“In every five years, I think my 25 per cent of time was spent in (holding) frequent elections. Soon after holding assembly polls in the state, Lok Sabha elections used to be held immediately after three or four months, (thus) leaving us with very little time for governance.
After that local bodies elections are held and in between by-polls are taking place for various reasons,” he said.
Chouhan said this is the “right time” for political parties to thoroughly discuss the issue “so that time and resources are channelised for better use”.
Madhya Pradesh is going to polls next year.
Asked whether his party would prefer holding elections with ballot papers as being demanded by the parties like Congress, Chouhan said, “It would be a retrograde step and there is no need for it.”
Last month, a major row had erupted before the Ater bypoll in Madhya Pradesh, when a video of VVPAT (Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail) demonstration by a poll official purportedly showed that irrespective of the votes cast to a party, the machine attached to the EVM dispensed slips showing votes having gone to the BJP only.
In the wake of electoral reverses in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab respectively, the AAP and BSP raised doubts over reliability of EVMs and have sought to attribute BJP’s victory to the “hacking” of the devices.
The Congress had backed BSP chief Maya-wati’s demand for a probe into the EVMs’ alleged vulnerability to tampering bids and appealed to the Election Commission to consider paper ballots in their place.
The AAP on Tuesday “demonstrated” in the Delhi assembly as to how an EVM could be rigged after one of its MLAs “hacked” a prototype.
The EC, however, trashed the AAP’s claims saying a “duplicate” EVM was hacked. The poll body has maintained that EVMs are tamper-proof.
The commission on Friday convened an all-party meeting in Delhi to discuss the reliability of EVMs after 16 parties urged it to revert to the ballot paper system claiming faith of people in the machines has eroded.
The EC was expected to seek views of political parties on the proposed challenge it plans to throw to hack its EVMs.
The date of the proposed challenge would be decided after the all-party meeting, it was said. PTI