Sixteen parties, including the TRS that is usually equidistant from the ruling BJP-led NDA and the Opposition, on Tuesday submitted a notice in the Rajya Sabha for a discussion on electoral reforms.
Although the upper House had discussed poll reforms in the previous session, the recent spate of revelations on electoral bonds has added an edge to the issue.
According to the Trinamul Congress’s Derek O’Brien, a “general consensus” has emerged among all parties on the need to return to paper ballots as way too many doubts had been raised about the electronic voting machines.
After the recent by-elections in Bengal, even the BJP — which had questioned EVMs in 2009 before becoming its big advocate post-2014 — alleged that the machines were responsible for not only its rout in all three seats but also a huge swing of votes in favour of Trinamul.
The 16 parties who have signed the notice are Trinamul, the Congress, DMK, NCP, BSP, RJD, PDP, Shiv Sena, CPI, CPM, MDMK, Samajwadi Party, AAP, TDP, Kerala Congress (Mani) and the TRS. A nominated MP has also signed.
In order to ensure that their notice is not dropped on a technicality, care has been taken to get fresh names from multi-member parties to sign up.
The apprehension is that if those who have sought a short-duration discussion on the economy signed up to seek one on the electoral reforms, too, it may be rejected on the ground that they had already got one debate of their choosing this session.