The Election Commission on Wednesday turned down the demand of 22 Opposition parties to count the VVPAT slips first at randomly selected five polling booths.
Earlier, the Supreme had directed the Election Commission to increase random matching of EVM results with paper trail machine slips from one polling station per assembly seat to five.
The Commission said the VVPAT verification will be done after the counting of votes and not before.
On Tuesday, just two days ahead of counting of votes, 22 Opposition parties demanded that VVPAT slips at randomly selected five polling booths should be counted first, and if any discrepancy occurs, then VVPAT slips should be tallied for the entire assembly segments.
Leaders of the opposition parties, who held a meeting in Delhi on the issue and then jointly approached the EC, also raised concerns over reports about Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) being “replaced” at various places.
“All the VVPATs should be counted at the beginning. If there are any discrepancies, total VVPAT (voter verified paper audit trail) of the entire assembly segment should be counted,” Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu told reporters after meeting the EC officials.
Naidu, who has been spearheading the opposition’s campaign against the EVMs and to build a non-BJP front, asked what problem did the Commission have in implementing their suggestions.
The opposition parties will decide the next course of their action if the EC refused to accept their demands, Naidu said.
The delegation also comprised of Nationalist Congress Party’s Praful Patel, DMK’s Kanimozhi, Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brien, Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav, Bahujan Samaj Party’s Satish Chandra Misra, Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Manoj Jha, Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury, Communist Party of India leader D. Raja and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal.
Other parties that took part in the meeting were the Janata Dal-Secular, the Indian Union Muslim League, the Rashtriya Lok Dal, the Jharkhand Vikas Morch-Prajatantrik, the Loktantrik Janata Dal, the National Conference, the NPF, and the Hindustani Awami Morcha.
The memorandum submitted by the 22 parties represented “the voice of 70 per cent of the electorate in the country”.
Meanwhile, reports of alleged transportation of EVMs from strongrooms in Uttar Pradesh emerged on Tuesday.
Several video clips have been circulating on social media showing transportation of the EVMs in trucks and lorries without any security. There also were reports of EVM manipulation from Ghazipur, Chandauli, Domariaganj, Jhansi and Mau in Uttar Pradesh. In Bihar, the RJD shared pictures of voting machines allegedly being transported in a vehicle in Saran.
However, the EC junked the reports as “baseless”.
Earlier, the opposition parties had also filed a review petition in the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Election Commission to increase VVPAT verification from five to at least 50 per cent of EVMs during the counting of votes in the General Elections.
The petition was rejected by the court.