Raj Thackeray on Wednesday urged Mamata Banerjee to join his campaign against EVMs and attend a rally in Maharashtra on August 21 demanding a return to ballots, making common cause with an issue she has been advocating.
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief met Mamata in the chief minister’s office at Nabanna and discussed the issue that both have been highlighting, especially after the general election results.
“I came here to meet Mamataji with the sole purpose of discussing the major developments regarding EVMs and VVPATs. She is one of the senior leaders in the country who has been working selflessly to save democracy,” said Thackeray, who has invited UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and several other national Opposition figures to join his crusade.
“We are going to take out a massive morcha in Maharashtra over this. I have invited her (Mamata) to attend the August 21 programme. She and her party have expressed support for our cause and agreed to stand with us in the battle against EVMs,” Thackeray added.
Mamata pointed out that she has been raising the demand and voiced her support for Thackeray’s cause. “We did it on July 21, they are doing it on August 21, the cause is the same, the concerns are the same, and they are genuine…. I have some programmes, I said I will tell him later (about attending the August 21 event),” Mamata said.
“Twenty-three parties in the national Opposition had moved the Supreme Court over this…. It is a matter of grave concern, how each of their (the BJP’s) predictions on seat count, made ahead of the elections, came true in the results,” Mamata added.
The MNS chief pointed out that EVMs have been shunned by most developed nations while asserting that the movement was not against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “But, if being anti-EVM means being anti-Modi, we are okay with that.”
Asked if the MNS and other non-BJP forces were looking to approach the judiciary against EVMs — like they had done in the past — given the firm stand in favour of EVMs by the Election Commission and the BJP-led Centre, Thackeray said: “On this, we have no hope from the high courts, the Supreme Court or the Election Commission.”
The return to ballots in Assembly and Lok Sabha polls has been one of Mamata’s core demands and she has been trying to build a movement on the issue. It was the central theme of her party’s Martyrs’ Day event on July 21.