CPI-M, NCP refuse to take part in the EVM Challenge
New Delhi: The CPI-M and NCP did not take part in Election Commission's EVM challenge on Saturday, which was conducted to prove the reliability of the Electronic Voting Machines used in electoral process across the country.
It may be mentioned that CPI-M and NCP were the only two parties which had earlier accepted the challenge thrown by EC after a number of political parties alleged rigging in the machines to benefit a particular outfit in the elections.
While the CPI-M expressed "satisfaction" after a demonstration, the NCP said they did not want to participate in an EVM challenge, but were only interested in it as an academic exercise.
The EC said the NCP could come back later to access the "memory and battery numbers" by opening the machines themselves, as they had demanded.
Briefing reporters after the EVM challenge at the Nirvachan Sadan, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said the issue of "tamperability of machines" should be closed with the end of the challenge.
"The machines are not tamperable. The issue tamperability of machines should be closed with this and with VVPAT (Voter verified paper audit trail)," Zaidi said.
He said the challenge should not be seen in terms of victory or defeat. "It was a mutually learning exercise," he said.
Zaidi said the Communist Party of India-Marxist conveyed that they did not wish to participate in the challenge but only wanted to understand the EVM process.
He said the CPI-M members were given a detailed demonstration by the commission about EVMs by the technical team of the Commission, and they were "satisfied".
"A detailed demonstration was given to them. Technical doubts were clarified," he said.
Zaidi said CPI-M members expressed "complete satisfaction" and suggested that the poll panel should hold such demonstrations and awareness sessions pro-actively.
The CPI-M was represented by Ravindranath R.B., Bappa Aditya Sinha and Rahul Dey, while NCP team was represented by Rajya Sabha member Vandana Hemant Chavan, Gaurav Jayprakash Jachak and Yasin Hussain Shaikh.
Zaidi said the Nationalist Congress Party members conveyed that they were keen to treat the challenge as an "academic exercise".
The NCP had asked for the memory and battery numbers of the EVMs four days ahead of the challenge.
Zaidi said: "They (NCP) were informed about the reply the Commission had given earlier to their request saying that EVMS could not be opened and memory and battery numbers taken out in the absence of the party representatives at the Commission. They were also informed that the party could access these numbers at the time of Challenge by opening themselves the sealed EVMS," said Zaidi.
The NCP, however, submitted a letter saying they cannot participate in the challenge because of "non-provision of this information", said the EC.
The NCP also protested about being asked to choose among 14 EVMs.
"In the letter, the NCP also raised an objection of the last-minute change in the EVM selection protocol by asking them to select an EVM out of the list of 14 EVMs," added Zaidi.
According to the EC, the NCP was twice offered to participate in the Challenge or by way of academic exercise by the selecting the EVM and then accessing the memory and battery numbers by opening the machines themselves.
"Commission also offered them that they can come back, as they had demanded, to prove their point," said Zaidi.
He said that NCP members conveyed that the main reason for their apprehension was over the voting machines used in the municipal polls in Maharashtra.
Zaidi said the NCP members were told that the machines used in the municipal polls did not belong to the Election Commission.
The EC also refused to allow the CPI to observe the EVM challenge. Replying to a letter by CPI General Secretary S. Sudhakar Reddy to ECI accusing the Commission of not allowing his party to observe the process, Zaidi said: "There was no provision for witnessing or observing the process in the EVM Challenge framework."
The poll panel had released the challenge framework on May 20 following allegations by some opposition parties of large-scale tampering of EVMS over the results of assembly polls to five states held in February-March and the Delhi civic polls.
The Aam Aadmi Party has announced its own parallel EVM hackathon after it did not agree to the stipulations laid down by the EC.
The Election Commission has already announced that future elections will be held using VVPAT.
With IANS Inputs