Ahmedabad: An activist group opposed to the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in elections will hold a rally from Dandi to Gandhinagar later in January to publicize their stand, which includes using ballot paper for voting.
The EVM Hatao Lokshahi Bachao Andolan Samiti rally will begin in Dandi, in Navsari district, at 9.30am on 22 January and finish at the state capital on 26 January—India’s Republic Day—with the unfurling of the national flag and a meeting.
The group is composed of Hasmukh Saxena, Atul Patel, Atul Dave, Ratna Vora, Haresh Gupta, Piyush Parmar, Swapnil Mehta, Azad Kiran, Manish Parmar and other social activists.
“No political party is directly involved with this movement right now. We are not claiming that there is manipulation or any technical faults in the EVMs. Our agenda is that voting is our right and ballot paper is the only safe method,” said Saxena.
Saying that corruption exists throughout the country despite the government claiming there is none and that liquor is sold in Gujarat despite the ban in the state, Saxena said the same happens in the case of EVMs. “If ballot paper is used for voting, it will be helpful in increasing transparency and authenticity of votes,” he said.
Allegations of EVMs being manipulated were made during the recent Gujarat assembly elections. A number of voters at different polling booths across the state, including Congress party leader Arjun Modhwadia in Porbandar, claimed the machines were connecting to mobile phones via Bluetooth technology. The Election Commission of India (EC) denied the allegations.
Two days before the results of the state polls were announced, Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convenor Hardik Patel said the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would tamper with the EVMs to manipulate the outcome. In a post on Twitter, he said, “The BJP will tamper with the EVMs in a big way on Saturday and Sunday night. The BJP is losing the elections. If the EVMs are not tampered with, the BJP will win only 82 seats.”
The BJP won 99 seats in the Gujarat elections, a decline of 16 from 2012, while the opposition Congress increased its tally by a similar amount to 77.