The April 11 polling had seen several complaints. There are complaints against the malfunctioning or technical snag of the EVMs. There are also complaints about the delay in the voters casting their votes as the poll staff were either slow or not familiar with the procedures.
The battle against the faulty EVMs is on now in the national capital with Telugu Desam Party supremo and Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu leading the opposition parties against the Election Commission of India. The battle is getting tougher with the parties joining hands with Chandrababu Naidu. The Congress, surprisingly, too had joined the battle.
There are doubts over the performance of the electronic devices. As they are programmed by one expert, the programming can be altered by another expert and thus there has always been a question mark on the EVMs. But, they have been in use in the country’s election since 1982, when the EVMs were used in limited polling booths in the by-election of North Paravur Assembly constituency of Kerala. Later they were used in all the Assembly constituencies of Goa in 1999. In 2003, they were used in all State Assembly elections and were introduced in the Parliament elections in 2004.
Though there have been questions on the EVMs, it was mostly the parties which lost the elections, blamed the machines while the parties which came to power, remained silent. Even Chandrababu Naidu did not make any statement on the EVMs in the 2014 elections, where his party had won the battle. Now, the question is on the EVMs used in the 2019 elections.
The other issue in this election is that the poll staff were not familiar with the EVMs or the election process leading to delay. The reason for this is that the State government had provided Anganwadi ‘Teachers’ for the election duty while limiting the regular teachers in the process. It is alleged that the district Collectors have deployed some of the Anganawadi teachers to handle the election process in the polling booths, who were not familiar with the procedures and practices.
The political party agents who sit inside the polling booths to note and identify the voters, were seen playing a dominant role by checking the voter slips and clearing the voter to reach the Booth Level Officer (BLO) in the polling booth. With every party agent checking the voter slip, it took longer time for the voter to get clearance from every agent of every candidate before reaching the BLO and get the voter slip to cast the vote. This was allowed by the BLOs who were not familiar with the election procedure.
But, the big question is, why did the Collectors allow such not so familiar “teachers” to handle the election? Was there a conspiracy to lower the voting percentage and favour some political party? These are the questions being asked by the people in the post-poll debates. It is to be seen what is right and who is right?