Chhattisgarh to go back to ballot paper, dump EVMs?

Chhattisgarh could be the first state in the country to do away with EVMs to adopt the ballot paper in the local body polls

Chhattisgarh Dump EVM

On Tuesday, October 15, the BhupeshBaghel government decided to move away from Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and return to ballot paper voting in the upcoming elections to urban local bodies in Chhattisgarh, to be held in December this year.
This decision has come after the Congress and non-NDA parties questioned the effectiveness of EVMs, suspecting them to be vulnerable of tampering.

However, the Election Commission has made it clear that the decision of using the EVM voting system is irreversible. Itstated that ballot papers are ‘history’ and that EVM machines, system checks, safeguard checks and election protocols are ‘fully tamper proof’.

Chhattisgarh Urban Development Minister Shiv Daharia, who is a member of the sub-committee said, “A cabinet sub-committee constituted by the Chhattisgarh government to review the current local body polls on Tuesday recommended to use ballot paper instead of EVMs in the upcoming urban local body elections, besides holding indirect elections for the posts of mayors and chairpersons of the bodies”.

The ministerial panel also agreed to hold indirect elections for mayors, the decision also taken by the Congress government in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

He added that these recommendations of the cabinet subcommittee would be referred to the State Cabinet head by Chhattisgarh CM BhupeshBaghel for approval.

Dahariya hinted at bringing in an ordinance that could possibly be passed with a view of amending the State Municipal Elections Act to facilitate the use of ballot papers in the upcoming urban local body polls.

Protesting this decision, the BJP held a one-day sit-in demonstration in the state capital where party leaders opposed the State Government’s decision calling it the Opposition’s conspiracy to rig the polls.

Leader of opposition DharamlalKaushik called the decision of the cabinet sub-committee against the existing essence of democracy. “It appears the Congress is scared of losing the urban body elections after the poll debacle it faced in the LokSabha in Chhattisgarh this year,”

A statement by spokesman SaileshTrivedy of the Congress said, “The voters in Chhattisgarh have welcomed the decision to use ballot paper in the local body elections after controversy erupted over use of EVMs in the elections.”

Meanwhile the senior party leaders of the BJP handed over a memorandum to the Governor of Chhattisgarh in a request to not give consent to the ordinance.

Earlier, Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Saugata Roy had also demanded the government to return to ballot papers alleging that EVMs may be ‘compromised’ and also that no hacking by the ruling party (BJP) and its cohorts can take place.

The NCP too had in July moved a proposal in the Legislative Council demanding that the upcoming assembly elections be held through ballot papers.

It is to be noted that the Election Commission did go back to ballot papers in Telangana’sNizamabadLokSabha elections instead of EVMs to accommodate 185 candidates that were contesting for the seat. The EVM can only be used for a maximum of 64 candidates.

While the EC has made it clear to go ahead with EVMs for future elections, It remains to be seen if the ordinance will be passed and whether the decision willalso be applied to elections for Assembly elections in the state in future.

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