NEW DELHI: The Centre evaded any direct reply on not allotting Rs 3100 crore sought by the Election Commission to have electronic voting machines with paper trail while it assured the Rajya Sabha that it will ensure increasing use of such machines in a phased manner as there are logistical issue.
Speaking in Rajya Sabha on electoral reforms, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that electronic voting machines (EVMs) cannot be tempered with and targeted the Opposition that EVMs are correct when they win but are tempered with when the BJP wins.
“When we (BJP) lost Bihar and Delhi elections, we never questioned that there was problem with the EVMs but the entire opposition now (post elections in five states) is raising the issues that EVMs can be tempered,” he said.
The minister further said that it is not because of EVMs that the BSP, SP, Congress and other parties have lost in elections but because the people are convinced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government will ensure development.
“They should accept people’s mandate with humility. People of India have shown faith in BJP ruled government and the opposition is troubled by the massive mandate we have got in elections,” said Prasad.
There were hot exchange of words between the minister and the opposition while BSP leader S C Mishra alleging that the people of Uttar Pradesh feel cheated after the election results as their votes went to some other party.
The opposition said that the Supreme Court in a 2013 ruling has made it mandatory to have EVMs with Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) but the central government has not done anything to implement it in last four year.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the Centre doesn’t want to allocate the money for the machines.
“The Election Commission has written 12 times to the Centre, including an SOS letter to Prime Minister by Chief Election Commissioner to allocate required Rs 3100 for acquiring the machines but money has not been allocated,” he said.
With the minister giving logistics reason like security and safety issues with the machines for delay, Azad said: “When the government cannot secure the machines, how can they ensure safety of the nation.”
The minister said that in 2015, 67000 VVPATs were ordered but only 33000 have been received as there are only two PSUs which manufacture it.
Some members demanded that VVPATs should be used in next assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. Prasad said that the decision on this will be taken by the Election Commission.
Not satisfied with the reply of the minister, the entire opposition walked out of the house.