New Delhi/Mumbai, July 8: Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) President Raj Thackeray on Monday demanded that the upcoming state assembly elections must be held with ballot papers and not Electronic Voting Machines. He has made the demand to the Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and other top EC officials whom he met in New Delhi, a party aide said in Mumbai.
Addressing the media after the meeting, Thackeray said: "However, from the reactions of the EC officials, they seemed disinterested on such a serious issue. I have zero expectations from them."
He said there are many questions raised on the reliability of the EVMs which have US-manufactured chips that are susceptible to hacking.
"In the last Lok Sabha (2019) elections, in 370 constituencies there are discrepancies in the figures of votes cast and the votes counted, and the number of votes counted was higher than the votes cast," Thackeray alleged.
He said the people have a right to know that the vote has gone to the intended candidate and ballot papers can provide that transparency.
The MNS chief observed that "if the match is already fixed, then what is the need for preparations", adding he had submitted a letter with the demand for reverting to ballot papers in the Maharashtra Assembly elections.
He pointed out that since the past 20 years, fingers are pointed at EVMs, and till 2014, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was against EVMs, their leaders event went to the courts, "but after 2014, they suddenly stopped talking about it".
Referring to concerns that ballot paper counting would delay the results, Thackeray shot back that in India, elections are held over a two-month period so what difference will it make if the result is delayed by a couple of days. He added in August 2018, he had written to leaders of all political parties in the country to unitedly protest against EVMs and insist on ballot paper voting. Thackeray rued how at that time, nobody took note of it, but expressed hope that now they would reconsider the issue.