Maharashtra polls: Opposition raises pitch on EVMs, bats for ballot papers

Mumbai: Raising alarm over EVMs ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly polls, key Opposition parties on Friday pitched for reverting to the use of ballot papers and announced a protest march on August 21 over the issue.

A clutch of Opposition leaders, key among them state Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat, MNS president Raj Thackeray and NCP's Ajit Pawar, held a joint press conference here over the EVM issue.

They termed the April-May Lok Sabha polls results as “shocking” as they expressed concern over the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in unison.

Seeking to develop a groundswell on the issue, the Opposition leaders said they would reach out to the people and get filled forms, saying they want ballot papers back.

Thackeray also stated that the BJP and the Shiv Sena, too, should join the August 21 march, which he added, will not have flag of any particular party.

The BJP had swept the Lok Sabha polls held in April-May this year, winning 303 seats. In Maharashtra, the BJP won 23 seats, while its ally Shiv Sena bagged 18 out of the total 48 in the state.

The Congress won 52 Lok Sabha seats across the country, including one in Maharashtra. The Sharad Pawar-led NCP emerged victorious in five seats, including four in the state.

“Doubts are being raised over the use of EVMs. Such things should not happen in a democracy. Various parties and organisations have expressed concerns over the use of the machines,” Pawar told reporters here.

“People have doubts about EVMs, VVPAT as the elections are nearing. We do not distrust anyone, but the elections must be held in a transparent manner,” Pawar said.

Thackeray, who has been at the forefront of the anti-EVM campaign by political parties, said the Lok Sabha poll results had “shocked all — those who won and lost”.

“People in the US had raised suspicions over Donald Trump's election as the President of that country. The chips installed in the EVMs used here come from the US...Using ballot papers will instill trust among people on the poll process,” Thackeray said as he favoured doing away with the use of EVMs.

Thackeray, who campaigned against the BJP though his party did not contest the Lok Sabha polls, said all the Opposition parties would reach out to the people getting filled forms, saying they want to revert to ballot papers.

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