Parties boycott EVM checking exercise
Imphal, Oct. 21: Political parties stormed out of a meeting, convened to check electronic voting machines (EVM), in Thoubal district today after election officials did not allow them to take photographs of the numbers and identification of the memory chips of the machines.
“The representatives of all the political parties that turned up today for checking the EVMs at the office of the deputy commissioner of Thoubal at the district headquarters walked out of the proceedings after the officials disallowed us to take photographs of the memory chips,” CPI state secretary Moirangthem Nara Singh told reporters later.
State election authorities have initiated steps for checking of EVMs by election officials, engineers of Bharat Electronics Ltd and Electronics Corporation of India Ltd and political parties, following instructions from the Election Commission to check the machines in view of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Today’s checking, called the first-level EVM checking, for Thoubal district was the first such exercise in the state for Parliament election.
The state election authorities lined up dates for such exercises at the headquarters of the remaining eight districts.
Only three parties — the CPI, Trinamul Congress and the BJP — sent their representatives to Thoubal deputy commissioner K. Ranjit’s office today. The CPI took along a computer expert who has some knowledge about EVMs.
The deputy commissioner, district election officials and one engineer each of Bharat Electronics and Electronics Corporation of India also attended the meeting.
“We were allowed to see the strong room where the machines are kept. When we wanted to take photographs of the memory chips, the deputy commissioner and other election officials turned down our request, saying the ECI instructions do not allow it,” Nara Singh said.
Then the delegates of the political parties walked out of the checking room, maintaining that there was no point participating in the checking programme if the parties were not allowed to take photos of memory chips.
The political parties’ demand follows suspicion by voters and political parties of memory chip manipulation by the ruling Congress in the last Assembly election.
Nara Singh appealed to political parties in all the districts not to clear the machines without checking the numbers and identification of the memory chips to be used in elections.
Leaders of the BJP, the CPI and the Trinamul Congress held a meeting today and are likely to convene an all-party meeting next month to discuss the EVM matter. The three parties are demanding that the EVM be replaced by the traditional ballot paper.