West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday expressed reservations over electronic voting machines adopted in the Lok Sabha elections and urged opposition parties to unitedly demand the return of ballot papers for polls.
She also urged the opposition parties in the country to set up a fact-finding committee to probe possible tampering of electronic voting machines (EVM) in the Lok Sabha elections.
Banerjee who also heads the Trinamool Congress said that her party will launch padayatras across the state to increase the demand for abolishing EVMs and restoring ballots in the country.
“We don’t want machines. We want ballots. Give us back our ballot (system). Save democracy,” said Mamata Banerjee after the meeting of party MPs, legislators and ministers.
“We will spread the movement all over the country. We will urge all opposition parties to raise this demand. Remember, the US, too, has moved away from the EVMs,” said the TMC chief.
Two padayatras would raise the slogan for a return to the ballot. The processions would culminate in TMC’s Martyr’s Day programme on July 21 when the party’s annual flagship political event is held in Kolkata.
Congress Rajya Sabha MP Pradip Bhattacharya said that his party would support the campaign and take part in it.
“In 1984, Congress won 16 (Lok Sabha) seats (from Bengal). In 2009, there was an alliance between the TMC and Congress (and won 25 seats). But no questions were raised since people voted spontaneously,” remarked Mamata.
Incidentally, on January 19, after the rally of 23 opposition parties in Kolkata’s Brigade Parade Ground, the Bengal chief minister had announced that a four-member committee involving Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Akhilesh Yadav, Satish Mishra, and Arvind Kejriwal would draft the opposition’s arguments against it.
The TMC chief stated on Monday that her party’s MLAs would begin a door-to-door campaign to establish public contact.
In the recent Lok Sabha elections, the BJP made deep inroads in Bengal winning 18 seats – a 900 percent rise from its tally of two (also it’s historic high) in 2014. The TMC’s tally dropped from 34 in 2014 to 22.
The TMC vote share stood at 43.28% and the BJP was breathing down its neck at 40.25%, recording a jump of 23.23 percentage points over 2014. The TMC vote share was 39.79% in 2014.
Bengal has been simmering in political violence since the election dates were announced and the bloodletting did not stop even after the results.