NE political parties conference questions use of EVMs

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IMPHAL, July 7: Various political parties active in the North Eastern states have raised questions on why Election Commission of India (ECI) is using the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to conduct elections of the Parliament, Assembly and other elections of local bodies citing it as against the wishes of the general public.   
The questions were raised by representatives of some 20 political parties at a conference on “Parliamentary standing committee on public grievances” held on July 5 at Pinewood Hotel at Shillong, Meghalaya.

According to reliable source, the conference was attended by ruling Congress party MLA from state Victor Keishing, while, L Jatra Singh represented BJP Manipur Pradesh.

The Naga Peoples’ Front was represented by two members and the CPI Manipur State Council was represented by Dr M Nara Singh.

The conference which was jointly organized by Election Commission of India and Military of Law, Government of India was hosted by Chief Secretary, Meghalaya and attended by state representatives of around 20 national, regional and local political parties from the eight North East states.

Reports said that the conference discussed on matters related to electoral reforms, election code of conduct of political parties and anti-defection law.

The source said that the political parties at the conference strongly condemned the use of EVM in elections saying that the use of EVM encourages a candidate to use money power as well as muscle power to win the election.

The representatives of the political parties have also questioned the officials of ECI, on their silence in this regard citing that a Nagaland Assembly election candidate who was the then Home Minister of the state was arrested along with huge amount of cash, guns and liquors in the recently held Nagaland State Assembly election.

Congress MLA from the state Victor Keishing at the conference proposed to increase the expenditure rate fixed by ECI of maximum Rs 8 lakh to be spent by a candidate for state assembly election and Rs 35 lakh maximum for an MP candidate.     

However, some political parties’ representatives spoke against his proposal saying it will dirty the picture of the election.

Representatives of all the political parties were given the chance to speak freely on any matter at the conference, the source said. The matters discussed at the conference were minutely recorded by the officials of ECI and Law Ministry.

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