Two days ahead of the announcement the Lok Sabha poll results, 22 Opposition parties have marched to the Election Commission demanding a clear procedure in case of any mismatch between the counting figures of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) system.

According to Opposition leaders, the clear procedure will be 100 per cent counting of VVPATs slips of all polling stations of a particular Assembly segment in which a discrepancy is found. They also demanded that the counting of VVPATs in the five polling booths in each Assembly segment must be done before starting the counting recorded in EVMs.

Leaders of the Congress, Left parties, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Trinamool Congress, the DMK, the Telugu Desam Party and the Aam Aadmi Party were present in the delegation.

They have also submitted a memorandum to the poll panel with the demand. The panel, however, is non-committal and the Opposition parties and may meet again on Wednesday to seek other possibilities such as approaching the Supreme Court.

The Opposition leaders said the EC officials did not answer questions on why their demands cannot be met. The leaders also showed the videos of EVMs being taken to counting centres and strong-rooms without police escort. They also showed recorded messages of former Chief Election Commissioners TN Seshan and SY Qureshi on how the panel is supposed to function. The support of former President Pranab Mukherjee also boosted the morale of the Opposition camp.

‘Long-pending struggle’

“We told the EC that the VVPAT machines should be counted first and if there is any discrepancy, then all of them in that segment should be counted. During elections, there were many EVMs which malfunctioned, and in many cases, when votes for a political party were cast, it showed votes for some other party, especially the BJP. We have been complaining about the EVMs in the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha and even in States since the last three-four years,” Opposition leader in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters here after meeting poll panel officials.

“We are asking the EC to respect the mandate of the people. It cannot be manipulated. If there is a blood test and it shows some discrepancy, then the whole body should be scanned. Similarly, we demand that if discrepancy shows up in one VVPAT, then all of them in that Assembly segment should be counted,” said Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, who has been spearheading the campaign against EVMs.

The memorandum also urged the EC to verify the VVPAT slips of randomly identified (five) polling stations prior to the beginning of the counting of votes and not after the completion.