NEW DELHI, Feb 24 � Repeated complaints against the functioning of the electronic voting machines (EVMs) may prompt the Election Commission to adopt stricter norms and close scrutiny of the State-owned public sector undertaking that handles the maintenance of the machines in Assam.
This was hinted at by Election Commissioner HS Brahma before a delegation of the AGP, which wanted the EC to review its contract for maintenance with AMTRON or any State Government-owned or controlled organisation, and instead entrusting the job to a Central Government undertaking.
The AGP delegation called for utilisation of the Voter Verifiable Paper Trail (VVPT) in Assam instead of common EVM during the ensuing general elections to be held in the country. The delegation expressed its strong concern over the malfunctioning and manipulation of EVMs.
The delegation included working president Atul Bora, Rajya Sabha MP Birendra Prasad Baishya, MLAs Kumar Deepak Das, Phani Bhusan Choudhary and Keshab Mahanta, and general secretaries Pradip Hazarika and Durga Das Bodo.
Sources said that Brahma expressed his determination to look at the issues raised with all seriousness and have the experts examine the maintenance work conducted by AMTRON.
�Since AMTRON is an undertaking of the Government of Assam, we apprehend that the State Government would use its influence to manipulate the EVMs, which will jeopardise free and fair elections,� the AGP said.
The EC has been deploying VVPT systems in different parts of the country, but kept the North Eastern Region under the old system of using EVMs. In the Mizoram elections recently, EVMs were used, against which a petition has been filed in the Aizawl Bench of the Supreme Court.
The AGP said it also harbours similar apprehension of manipulation of EVMs in Assam. In the Parliamentary election to be held soon, the VVPT system should be deployed also, AGP demanded.
�The reason for not using VVPT in Assam is unknown to us. The decision not to use VVPT is discriminatory and appears to have been arrived at under extraneous consideration and may provide some undue advantage to the ruling party in Assam,� it alleged.
�Further entrusting AMTRON with the task of repairing old EVMs cast, a doubt in our mind. If AMTRON is entrusted with the repairing and maintenance of EVMs, the holding of free and fair election would only remain a dream,� it charged.