Congress pushes for reverting to ballot paper, raises concern over electoral bonds

New Delhi: Congress on Monday pushed for reverting to ballot paper in place of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in a proposal given to the Election Commission. It also said that to ensure political transparency, full identity disclosure of purchasers of electoral bonds is necessary.

In a proposal to the Election Commission, the party said: “Given the prevailing climate, the Congress party is of the firm opinion that in order to restore the independence and integrity of the electoral process, we must revert to the paper ballot.”

The party also said the present anonymity associated with electoral bonds needs to be remedied since this will not only assure anonymity to donors, but will also kill whatever little transparency exists.

“More recently, EVMs have been found faulty and non-functional on multiple occasions· There are innumerable complaints that whichever button was pressed, the voted was polled and counted in favour of the BJP’s symbol,” said Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi quoting the proposals.

“This has been noticed in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and many others. This has put a serious question mark on the credibility, independence and fairness of the EVMs in recording the votes correctly,” said the party.

“VVPATs are meaningless if the paper trail is never to be counted. The ECI has spent a considerable amount of money by its own admission, on the introduction of VVPAT technology,” it said.

“Currently only a very small number are cross checked. This turns the verification process into a mere academic exercise that defeats the very purpose of introducing VVPATs.

“If indeed the objective is to ensure greater confidence in EVMs, as stated in the note, then a more comprehensive audit of VVPAT should be welcome,” it added.

The party said there should be timely submission of annual audit reports, election expenditure reports and contribution reports by national and state recognized political parties.

“The electoral bonds, which were introduced by the present government, allow any citizen or a body incorporated to anonymously purchase the same in various denominations of up to Rs. 1 crore. However, this is simply a legal channel for companies to round-trip their tax haven cash to a political party,” said Singhvi quoting the proposals.

The party also raised the issue of bogus voters and said electoral process will be severely compromised if proper physical verification is not conducted. Other issues included fake/divisive propaganda being circulated on social media platforms.