Even as Opposition parties explore the feasibility of a united front, a parallel exercise is on to join hands on an issue which they consider to be far more critical to the outcome of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. In focus are the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). Many Opposition parties and voters have serious doubts about the reliability of EVMs. Efforts are on to renew the demand for a return to the old paper ballot system of voting for the next election. A day after the Gorakhpur and Phulpur byelection results were announced, victorious Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav told newsmen: “We won. But the old ballot paper system was much better. It enabled people to vote with much more passion and to express their anger through the ballot box”.
He then added: “The victory margins of our candidates would have been much higher with paper ballots. Most voters in rural areas needed help to cast their votes on EVM machines. In some booths, the machines malfunctioned. In several EVM machines, votes had already been cast even before polling began. A lot of time was wasted in many polling booths to sort out the glitches”.
At the plenary session of the Congress Party on Saturday, the draft political resolution echoed Akhilesh Yadav’s view—there should be a return to paper ballots. The resolution said: “There are apprehensions among the political parties and the people over the misuse of EVMs to manipulate the outcome which is often contrary to the popular verdict”.