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New Delhi: Stressing that communication is important in a democracy, former chief election commissioner SY Quraishi on Tuesday, 27 February, said the election commission should call an all-party meeting to address concerns over the EVMs.

Amid concerns being raised by several opposition parties over the electronic voting machines (EVMs), the former CEC said while he defends the EVMs, communication is important in a democracy, and so the election commission (EC) should call a meeting of the political parties and address the concerns.

“I have been defending EVMs for the last 15 years. If EVM is manipulatable could the BJP have lost Karnataka so badly? The PM had addressed 34 rallies… They lost Himachal, Punjab, West Bengal… ” he said during an interaction with journalists at the Indian Women’s Press Corps.

“In 2009, the movement against EVMs was at its peak, BJP leader GVL Narasimha Rao had even written a book, today BJP is the biggest defender of the EVM. When I became the CEC, we called an all-party meeting. Political parties are the biggest stakeholders,” he said.

Election Commission not proactive

Defending EVMs: Quraishi defended the reliability of EVMs, citing examples such as the BJP’s losses in Karnataka despite extensive campaigning by the Prime Minister. He highlighted that the BJP, which once had concerns about EVMs, now staunchly supports them.

All-Party Meeting: Quraishi recommended that the EC should organise an all-party meeting to discuss the concerns raised by political parties regarding EVMs. He emphasised that political parties are major stakeholders in the electoral process.

Role of Election Commission: He criticised the EC for not being proactive in addressing issues, suggesting that silence from the commission leads political parties to approach the Supreme Court. He stressed the importance of communication and transparency from the EC.

VVPATs: Quraishi dismissed arguments against counting Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs), stating that the time it takes to count them should not be a concern given the duration of the entire electoral process.

One Nation One Election: While discussing the concept of ‘One Nation One Election,’ Quraishi highlighted both positive and negative aspects. He mentioned the simplicity and efficiency of holding simultaneous elections but cautioned against the potential risk of local issues being overshadowed by national ones.

Local vs. National Issues: Quraishi underscored the importance of local issues in elections, warning against the subjugation of local concerns by national issues. He emphasised that repeated elections allow people to have a say in various matters affecting them at different levels of governance.

Federalism and Local Dynamics: Quraishi pointed out the significance of federalism and the diverse local dynamics across states. He cautioned against overlooking local issues and stressed the need to maintain a balance between local and national priorities in elections.

Overall, Quraishi’s remarks reflect his commitment to upholding democratic principles, advocating for transparent electoral processes, and ensuring that the voices of all stakeholders, including political parties, are heard and addressed by the Election Commission.

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