Hyderabad: In order to be accountable to political parties, and under the guidance of the Election Commission of India, the State Election Commission has been spending public money for procuring voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines.
After the Supreme Court’s directions, it has decided to count VVPAT slips of five booths per constituency.
The EC has deployed as many as 26,000 machines at a cost of `19,650 for each unit, from Bharat Electronics, Bengaluru, and the Electronics Corporation of India, Hyderabad.
The VVPATs have failed to impress political leaders cutting across party lines.
They claim that VVPATs are irrelevant in the current set-up if all the slips are not counted.
Congress candidate from the Chevella Lok Sabha constituency, Konda Vishweshwar Reddy, said that there are two aspects to look in as far as VVPATs are concerned.
He said that the EC, to gain the confidence of political parties and voters, had introduced VVPATs for accountability.
Mr Reddy said that this move came in the wake of allegations made by Opposition parties of tampering electronic voting machines (EVMs).
He asked if EVMs can be tampered with, why not VVPATs?
He said that in the name of accountability, huge public money and time had been wasted.
“How many people will look at the slips? I myself did not notice these during the Assembly elections,” he said.
Konda Vishweshwar Reddy said that not even 10 per cent of population would look at the VVPAT slips after voting.
Introduction of VVPATs would only contribute to the delay in declaring results.
“If they were introduced for accountability why only count VVPATs randomly? Why not all 26,000 VVPATs procured for the Lok Sabha elections in Telangana state,” he added.
BJP MLC N. Ramchander Rao, who is the candidate from Malkajgiri in the Lok Sabha polls, echoed the same views. Quoting the disbelief over EVMs as a shameful act by the Opposition, he said that there were no tampering issues raised in states where the BJP lost.
“We lost in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka where the Opposition did not raise any objection pertaining to EVMs and VVPATs,” Mr N. Ramchander Rao said.
An Election Commission official said that VVPATs were the ideal solution for rivalry of political parties who blame the EC and EVMs for their poor performance.
He said that this would be stored as a record in order to fight court cases filed by contesting candidates.
The official said that EVMs are stored in strong rooms for the safety of the EC to challenge the allegations made by political parties cutting across party lines.
CEO Rajat Kumar said that five VVPATs will be randomly chosen if any of the contesting candidates raises an objection.