New Delhi, Aug 21 : The Congress on Friday flayed the Election Commission of India (ECI) over its guidelines for conducting elections and bypolls during the coronavirus pandemic, questioning the use of EVMs despite the party’s suggestion to opt for paper ballots.
The opposition party said the guidelines have fallen “far short” for the conduct of free, fair and independent elections amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“The ECI guidelines clearly fail these principal tests, thereby negating the constitutional obligation of superintendence and control of elections in a non-partisan and unbiased manner.
“The simple question to ponder over is — if our elections cannot be conducted fairly, how will adult franchise and majority mandate, the lifeblood of our democracy, be effectively upheld,” asked AICC General Secretary KC Venugopal.
The Congress alleged that the ECI had “overlooked” almost all the suggestions given by the party and that the guidelines were inadequate in dealing with the Covid-19 challenges.
One of the Congress suggestions was to replace Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) with paper ballots.
“The ECI has completely failed to address this concern, instead opting to passively state that EVMs and VVPAT (voter-verified paper audit trail) machines will be sanitised. As the last six months have established, this is not a foolproof measure,” Venugopal said.
He contended that there is no distinction between rural and urban areas for the purpose of holding elections, raising questions over putting the responsibility of adherence to the Disaster Management Act on the voters and political activists.
Venugopal claimed it had the potential for “abuse by the ruling party”, which controls policing machinery.
“In case the ECI falters in this bounden duty (of holding free and fair elections), the consequences for democracy will be catastrophic,” the Congress leader warned.