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Leaders of 22 Opposition parties ask EC to count 100% VVPATs in case of mismatch in 5





Contending that the Supreme Court mandated matching of 5 of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) votes with Verified Voter Paper Trail (VVPAT) was only for a sample, leaders of 22 Opposition parties, in a meeting with Election Commission (EC) today (Tuesday, May 21) said that in case the sample indicated a mismatch, all votes should be matched with VVPAT slips.

In April, the Supreme Court had ordered the election commission to count to verify EVM votes with the paper slips generated by the VVPATs, or voter verifiable paper audit trail, for five polling booths selected on random basis in every assembly segment of a Lok Sabha constituency.

The commission, which reportedly heard them articulate their apprehensions for nearly an hour, did not give a firm commitment, said media reports. But they did get the assurance that the three Election Commission members would meet on Wednesday morning to discuss their two suggestions on counting of votes from the VVPAT slips.

The opposition parties are demanding that the VVPATs for the five selected booths in each assembly segment should be counted first. Their second demand is that if there is any discrepancy during VVPAT verification at the 5 booths, the Election Commission should go by the paper slips of VVPATs of all polling stations of that particular Assembly segment.

“We told the EC that the VVPAT machines should be counted first and if there is any discrepancy, then all of them in that segment should be counted,” Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters after meeting EC officials.

In the instructions put out by the poll panel, the VVPAT slips were to be counted at the end of the last round.

“This is a no brainer,” said Abhishek Singhvi of the Congress. After all, he reasoned, the Supreme Court had ordered counting of VVPAT slips from five polling booths only as a sample. If there is a problem with the sample, it means that entire lot may have been tampered.

Singhvi was also sore that the EC needed time to think about the two demands or suggestions from the opposition. Singhvi said this wasn’t a new proposal that the opposition parties had sprung on the commission but was part of the bundle of memos that had been sent to the poll panel.

“We raised these same issues in last one-and-a-half months. We asked Election Commission why have they not responded. Strangely, EC heard us for almost an hour and assured us they will meet us again tomorrow,” ANI quoted Singhvi as saying.

Also Read: EC rejects allegations of EVM swapping after videos of the machines being moved go viral

Telugu Desam Party chief Chandrababu Naidu, who has played a key role in rallying the opposition leaders around EVMs, said the opposition parties have asked the EC to “respect the mandate” of the people and it “can’t be manipulated”.

The opposition leaders also made a pointed reference to former president Pranab Mukherjee’s statement on Tuesday that underlined that the onus for ensuring institutional integrity of the electoral system and the EVM lies with the Election Commission of India

The fresh emphasis on concerns around voting machines comes against the backdrop of multiple reports and videos of EVMs being transported, which opposition parties say, raises questions about the reliability of the voting machines.

The Election Commission rebutted these reports, insisting that the polled EVMs and VVPATs had been brought to the designated strongrooms under security cover and in the presence of the candidates.

The parties also want the election commission to introduce a system for tracking EVM machines so that they can be identified with their numbers and location of use. An apprehensive Congress feels it is very important to track the EVMs to better understand the logic of replacement of machines.

The top opposition leaders had earlier in the day met to discuss the possibility of a non-NDA alliance staking claim to government formation.

Also Read: Ready for floor test: Kamal Nath

Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ashok Gehlot, Abhishek Manu Singhvi of the Congress, TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu, Satish Chandra Misra of the BSP, Sitaram Yechury of the CPI(M), D Raja of the CPI, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal, Derek O’Brien of the TMC, Ramgopal Yadav of the SP, Kanimozhi of the DMK, Manoj Jha (RJD), Majeed Memon (NCP), Devinder Rana (NC) had taken part in the meeting held before the leaders headed out for the meeting with the election commission.

Also Read: Narendra Modi pays tribute to former PM Rajiv Gandhi on his death anniversary

The Opposition meeting came on a day the Supreme Court dismissed a PIL by a Chennai-based organisation ‘Tech 4 All’, seeking 100 per cent matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs during the counting of votes on May 23.

“The CJI had dealt with this matter. Why are you taking chance before a two-judge vacation bench. We will not list any such case for urgent hearing. We cannot override the CJI’s order…This is nonsense,” said a vacation bench comprising justices Arun Mishra and MR Shah.

A three-judge bench, headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi, on May 7 had dismissed a review plea filed by 21 opposition leaders seeking that random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs be increased to 50 per cent.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Rahul Gandhi wouldn’t need to fear disqualification if he had not done this

Observers had been upbeat on the Congress’s chances despite the “Aayega Modi hi” slogan and potential allies talking of a non-Congress, non-BJP alliance.



Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Singh

Rahul Gandhi is finding himself in the eye of the news cycle storm after a Gujarat court convicted him of defamation for his 2019 remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Rahul Gandhi faces up to 2 years in jail for taking the Prime Minister’s name along with IPL founder Lalit Modi and fugitive businessman Nirav Modi and wondering if all Modis are thieves. The complaint against Gandhi was filed by BJP leader Purnesh Ishvarbhai Modi at Adajan police station in Surat district.

While convicting Gandhi, Chief Judicial Magistrate HH Varma granted him bail for 30 days for him to file his appeal, which would be in a higher court.

It is a coincidence that if Rahul Gandhi had not ripped up a Manmohan Singh government ordinance to protect legislators (MPs/MLAs/MLCs) convicted of criminal offences from disqualification, he could have escaped this Surat court judgment unscathed. But since the ordinance was withdrawn by the Manmohan Singh government, a legal protection that could have saved him and others can be looked upon wistfully.

The United Progressive Alliance-II regime had been at the receiving end of Opposition assaults over perceived corruption scams including 2G, coalgate and the railway cases, implicating ministers of allies Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Rashtriya Janata Dal among others.

The general perception of those years was that the allies were responsible for the falling goodwill of the Congress minority government. Though multiple parties including the Aam Aadmi Party went on the offensive, the biggest gainer from the hit on the Congress was the BJP.

Possibly, the UPA bigwigs could read among the tea leaves what lay ahead of them. Rahul Gandhi’s trashing other ordinance happened in the first few weeks of September 2013 when then PM Singh was away in the United States. The highlight of the next week was Narendra Modi being chosen as the BJP’s PM candidate above veteran leader LK Advani. What happened hence is well-known.

The Rahul Gandhi-led march, the Bharat Jodo Yatra, had won some eyeballs at the man’s ability to pull off the march with relative elan. Following the Hindenburg Research report on Adani, the Congress had shown some verve and fight in a marked departure from the grand old party dismissal.

A remark from spokesperson Pawan Khera on Modi saw Delhi Police armed police haul him off a flight at Delhi airport in connection with three FIRs against Khera, one in Assam and two in Uttar Pradesh.

Observers had been upbeat on the Congress’s chances despite the “Aayega Modi hi” slogan and potential allies talking of a non-Congress, non-BJP alliance. The Surat court decision could spark greater opposition coherence since Arvind Kejriwal himself came out in support of Gandhi.

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Shiromani Akali Dal offers legal assistance to those arrested during Amritpal Singh clampdown

Recently the Akali Dal Chief also put out a series of tweets that stressed on the unity and integrity of India and further condemned the divisive outfits for polarising the communal harmony in Punjab.



Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal

Day after Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal slammed the AAP government over the law and order situation by dubbed the hunt of pro-Khalistani leader Amritpal Singh and his aids as a conspiracy to defame the Sikh community for communal polarisation and electoral benefits. Akali Dal on Wednesday swung in to offer legal assistance to those arrested during the clampdown.

As per the reports, Sukhbir Singh Badal took to Twitter for the second consecutive day to talk about the Amritpal Singh crackdown and wrote that his party has agreed to offer complete legal assistance to all Sikh youth arrested in the ongoing extra-constitutional crackdown in Punjab.

The tweet by Badal also read that they are offering legal aid in order to safeguard the rights of the youth from being violated by the AAP Government in Punjab. The tweet also put out the contacts of the legal aid that the families of the arrested can approach to access.

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Recently the Akali Dal Chief also put out a series of tweets that stressed on the unity and integrity of India and further condemned the divisive outfits for polarising the communal harmony in Punjab. The tweet also read that the Sikh community has always been at the forefront of making sacrifices for the nation.

In another tweet, Badal wrote and claimed that attempts are being made to malign the Sikh community for electoral benefits. He further wrote and affirmed to the Punjabi community that Akali Dal will fight for every community including all minorities. Another tweet also slammed the arrest of the innocent youth and dubbed it to be a bid done under the garb of the crackdown of Amritpal Singh.

He further urged the authorities to stop the arrest to clear the Punjabis from feeling insecure in the state. As per the reports, so far the Punjab Police have arrested more that 100 associates of Amritpal Singh and held them for questioning. The prime accused Amritpal Singh, who spoke in favour of Khalitan, continues to be at large as the man hunt continues.

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Delhi Police crackdown on anti-Modi posters, police arrest 4 including owner of printing press, 44 cases registered

According to the reports, the posters were slapped on several walls and poles of the National Capital. The reports said that over 2000 posters were removed and 2,000 more seized after a van was intercepted by the Police authorities.



Narendra Modi

The Delhi Police has taken cognizance of the cases of the posters that slammed Prime Minister Modi and in a bid to curtail such incidents, the police have rained down on the several accused. So far, the Delhi Police has registered 44 FIRs in the matter and arrested 4 people including two owners of a printing press.

The clampdown by the police comes after a reported operation on Tuesday as the Delhi Police nearly 2,000 posters from various parts of Delhi. As per the reports, the posters that were removed by the Delhi police had promoted the idea of unseating Prime Minister Narendra as the posters read Modi Hatao, Desh Bachao.

According to the reports, the posters were slapped on several walls and poles of the National Capital. The reports said that over 2000 posters were removed and 2,000 more seized after a van was intercepted by the Police authorities.

The Special Commissioner of Police (North), Dependra Pathak, who informed the media about the police intercepting the van, also told the media that the police traced and nabbed down the van at IP Estate and also added that the van was coming from AAP headquarters on DDU Marg.

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It was reported the man driving the van was arrested by the police and upon being questioned, he told the authorities that his employer instructed him to deliver the posters to AAP’s headquarters and also added that he made a delivery day before as well.

Pathak also informed that 2 other men have also been arrested in the case and two printing press firms were given an order for making 50,000 more anti-modi posters. It was also reported that the workers of the company also pasted posters from late Sunday night to Monday morning. The police have arrested the owners of the printing press for reportedly not publishing the names of their company on the posters. The police are investigating further about the face behind who placed the order.

The AAP government has yet to make a statement on the matter after being accused of being linked to the poster pasting that goes against PM Modi.

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