In a significant development, the Congress government in Chhattisgarh decided to dump Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and go back to ballot paper voting in the upcoming elections to urban local bodies in Chhattisgarh, scheduled to be held in December this year.
The move, incidentally, comes in the wake of Congress and other non-NDA parties expressing strong reservations about using EVMs in Assembly and Lok Sabha elections, suspecting them to be vulnerable to tempering.
The Election Commission, however, has made it clear that the EVM voting system is irreversible and stated that their machines, system checks, safeguard procedures and election protocols are “fully tamper proof”.
Chhattisgarh would perhaps be the first state in the country to do away with EVMs in favour of ballot paper in the local body polls.
“A Cabinet sub-committee constituted by the Chhattisgarh government to review the current local body polls rules on Tuesday recommended to use ballot paper instead of EVMs in the upcoming urban local body elections, besides holding indirect elections for the posts of mayors and chairpersons of the bodies”, state urban development minister Shiv Daharia, who is a member of the sub-committee, told this newspaper.
The recommendations by the Cabinet sub-committee would be referred to the state cabinet headed by Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel for approval, he added.
According to him, an ordinance amending Municipality Elections Act to pave way for use of ballot paper in the urban local body polls and holding indirect elections for posts of mayor and chairpersons for these bodies may be promulgated after the Chhattisgarh Cabinet gave its stamp of approval to the recommendations.
He, however, said the relevant Act does not bar the state from using ballot paper in local body elections.
It may be recalled that EVMs have been used in the urban and rural local body elections in Chhattisgarh in the past one-and-half-decades when BJP was in power in the state.
The Congress has returned to power in Chhattisgarh after a gap of 15 years in the 2018 Assembly elections.
BJP spokesperson in Chhattisgarh Sanjay Srivastav opposed the move to use ballot paper in the urban body polls, describing it a “conspiracy by ruling Congress to rig polls”. The Congress, however, backed the move.
“The electorates in Chhattisgarh have welcomed the decision to use ballot paper in the local body elections after controversy erupted over use of EVMs in the elections,” Congress spokesperson in Chhattisgarh Sailesh Trivedy said.