BHOPAL: The three-level local body elections in Madhya Pradesh will witness the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and ballot papers. Election to the Zilla Panchayat and Janpad Panchayat will be conducted through EVMs, while the Panch and Sarpanch will be elected through ballot papers.
The State Election Commission has issued notification regarding the use of EVM machines in local body elections. This has also brought to an end the debate and demand by the Opposition parties, including the Congress, not to use EVMs in elections. The Congress has been quite vociferous in its demand for using ballot papers in all elections — whether for the Lok Sabha, Vidhan Sabha, or the Panchayat elections.
On the other hand, a section of the political leaders and environmentalists say the use of EVMs saves paper, thereby saving trees and the environment, besides saving time and other resources.
An official of the State Election Commission said that holding elections for members for the Janpad and Zilla Panchayats through EVMs was a wise decision. On an average, there are 3-4 members in one Assembly constituency for the Zilla Panchayat and 12-15 members at the Janpad level. So, their elections could be easily conducted with the help of EVMs.
Ballot paper will be used to elect the Sarpanch and Panch. The number of contestants for Panch and Sarpanch is so high that it would be impossible for the Election Commission to arrange for EVMs in such large numbers. “Moreover, operating four control units by the presiding officer for every voter will make the election process too burdensome,” said the official. This could also leave the voter confused.
Uncertainty looms large
The State Election Commission is on with its preparations, although uncertainty looms large over the local body elections. The process of reservation for the post of Mayor has not been completed yet. If the Election Commission does not announce elections some time soon, it might have to complete the obligation of updating the voters’ list. This could further postpone the local elections. The state government is yet to decide on the issue because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The number of Covid-positive patients has risen after Diwali and the Assembly by-elections.