IMPHAL, March 16 – Urging the public to raise their voice against use of electronic voting machines (EVM) in elections, politicians, academicians and experts in diverse fields in Manipur today decided to launch a campaign against the use of EVMs in the upcoming elections in the state.
The anti-EVM campaign was initiated after the ruling Congress party secured absolute majority in the Manipur Assembly polls bagging 42 seats out of the total 60.
“Conduct of election through EVMs is not reliable and use of ballot papers must be brought back to the democratic process of the country,” said CPI’s state secretary Dr M Nara Singh while attending the daylong gathering here. “Although many countries have stopped using EVMs, why is the biggest democratic country in the world still relying on voting machines in its elections?” Nara questioned.
EVM was introduced in the 2004 polls. USA had banned use of EVMs after rounds of controversy; the CPI leader said and added that Ireland and Germany had also banned conduct of elections through EVMs.
Alleging that the ruling party could have used its might by manipulating the machines in the recent Assembly polls in his Khangabok seat, Manipur People’s Party candidate Laishram Jatra said many experts had given their opinions on manipulation of EVMs in polls.
Jatra who lost to Chief Minister O Ibobi’s wife O Landhoni’s in the January 28 polls by a margin of more than 9000 votes, also wondered why and how predictions of Congress workers always came true.
“We should call for use ballot papers in a tiny state like Manipur in the next elections although the Election Commission of India claims EVM is the safest machine,” he argued. “Using EVM in polls violates fundamental rights of the people in the country. The voters cannot check whether their vote goes to the right person or not though it enables the voters to cast their votes fast.”
Retired government officer Dr Khomdon Lisam also shared some of his findings in connection with the use of EVMs in the polls during the day’s discussion, which was attended by representatives from 11 non-Congress political parties including former chief minister RB Koijam, former union sports Minister Th Chaoba, MPP president Dr Nimai Chand Luwang and Naga People’s Front Manipur unit spokesman Somi Keishing.