Mamata Banerjee targets EVMs again, questions BJPs Lok Sabha election win


Kolkata, June 03: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee raised questions on Monday over the electronic voting machines (EVMs) used in the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls and urged the opposition parties to unitedly demand the return of ballot papers in elections.

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo said a fact-finding committee should be constituted to find out the details about the EVMs used in the recent polls.

"We have to save the democracy. We do not want machines, we demand a return to the ballot paper system. We will start a movement and it will be initiated from Bengal," she told reporters after a meeting with her party MLAs and state ministers to review the TMC's poor show in the parliamentary polls.

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"I ask all the 23 political parties in the opposition to come together and demand the return of ballot papers. We must raise our voices. Even a country like the US has banned EVMs," Banerjee said.

The fact-finding committee should find out whether the machines were programmed or not, she said, adding, "I do not accept the Lok Sabha poll results as the people's mandate."

Banerjee said, "I appeal to all opposition political parties to ensure that there be a fact-finding committee so that we can find out the exact cause of this kind of election results."

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alone won 303 seats and ensured a landslide victory in the parliamentary election this time.

Raising questions about the voting machines, Banerjee said, "Many of the EVMs were replaced during the election without conducting mock polls on them. Who knows that the replaced EVMs were not programmed? A few lakhs of EVMs also went missing (during the polls)."

The TMC chief accused the BJP of using "money, muscle, institutions, media and the government" to win the election.

The saffron party managed to win 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal because of the Left Front, she claimed.

"The BJP managed only 18 seats, not 23 as they were claiming.... And that also because of the Left Front parties. But we (TMC) have managed to increase our vote share by four per cent," she added.

The TMC chief claimed that the votes of the Left Front had gone to other parties, which, she said, had been happening since last year's panchayat polls in the state.

On the post-poll violence in West Bengal and the alleged occupation of TMC party offices by the BJP, she referred to the Congress winning 16 Lok Sabha seats in the state after the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

"But even then, there were no incidents of any party office being captured or vandalised in the state like now," she said.

"This happens when elections are not won spontaneously. This (result) is not the people's mandate, it has been done artificially. That is why they (BJP) are hurriedly trying to take over party offices, fearing that they will lose whatever they have gained," Banerjee, who was elected as a Congress MP in 1984 and went on to be a minister in then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's cabinet, said.

The TMC supremo, who has been a strident critic of the BJP, accused the saffron party of giving out fake news to create a false notion about West Bengal and incite the "politics of hatred and violence".

Talking about her meetings with her party MLAs, Banerjee said the lawmakers would visit every household in the state to revive their connect with the common people.

Asked to comment on the tampering of the state's official "Biswa Bangla" logo at Jagatdal in North 24 Parganas district, the chief minister said the law will take its own course.

PTI

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