‘We have ensured a level playing field’


(Photo: AFP)

Delhi’s municipal elections are going to be held on 23 April even as the controversy over alleged tampering of electronic voting machines (EVMs) rages on.

The Delhi Election Commission is, however, confident of holding free and fair polls with the machines available with it. The Commission has made all kinds of arrangements to ensure a level-playing field.

In an exclusive interview to TheStatesman, Delhi State Election Commissioner S K Srivastava spoke of the challenges and the preparations of the poll panel.

Following are the excerpts of the ineterview:

Q: What are the major challenges that you face in holding free and fair elections?

A: One of the major challenges before the State Election Commission is appointing the staff for conducting the elections. We always try to ensure a level-playing field and see that the model code of conduct is implemented properly.

Q: Is it possible to revert to the ballot paper system?

A: This is a governmentlevel decision. The government has decided to go for EVMs (electronic voting machines). It should have enough reason to go for reversion. The EVM system is working very well.

Q: Till date, we have known that the election process in India is fair and transparent. Will the controversy over EVMs hamper that perception?

A: The change from ballot papers to EVMs has been widely accepted, except in the case of some panchayat elections. The EVM system has been found to be a very well handled one, smooth and transparent.

Q: The polls for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD)are being held for the second time after the trifurcation of the MCD. How have you been able to manage it under the changed circumstances?

A: After trifurcation, this is the second election and we are used to the system. There is not much of a change for us because whether we are conducting one MCD poll or three MCD polls it is the same thing for us.

Q: Some political parties have raised the issue of tampering of EVMs. Is there any substance in their complaints?

A: Let them prove it. The Election Commission of India is the custodian of the election system in the country as well as the machines which we are using. Tampering is only being talked about. Let them prove it. No one has been able to prove it.

Q: One political party has raised the issue of generation- 1 EVMs being used by the Delhi State Election Commission. What improvement do you think is possible so that no questions are raised regarding the fairness of elections?

A: Generation-1 was used in the last election also in 2012. The by-election was held with the help of the same machines. The old generation machine is an old machine but it is working well. We have to use it till we get new machines.

Q:What is the strength of your manpower for the MCD polls and how many EVMs will you press into service?

A: We have got around 13,141 polling stations. We have deployed around 80,000 to 1 lakh people. We have also taken the help of staff from the central government.

Q: What preparations have you done to attract voters to the pooling booths?

A:We have written to the vice-chancellors of universities, heads of technical institutions and college principals about it. We have also put up posters at metro stations and crossings. We have made a small film which is being shown in cinema halls that every vote is important. 

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