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A great setback to opposition
5/13/2019 11:22:37 PM
Omkar Dattatray

The recent decision of the apex court of dismissing the review petition of 21 opposition parties over the issue of matching and increasing VVPAT with EVMs to 25 percent from 5 percent allowed by the top court is a great set back to the opposition parties. The 21 opposition parties led by Chandra Babu Naidu of Telegu Desham and which includes Farooq Abdullah of NC, D. Raja of CPI and others had moved to Supreme court over the issue of matching of VVPAT with EVMs could not succeed in their designs as the review petition was set aside by the highest court and it said that same thing cannot be heard again and again. It appears that the opposition parties have sensed their defeat in the elections and are thus raking up non issues to cover their, would be electoral debacle and thus they are knocking the doors of Supreme Court and election commission of Indian time and again. Thus, it appears that the opposition has conceded their defeat even before the declaration of the election results and thus they are indulging in raising non issues only to attract the attention of the gullible masses. Opposition parties are dissatisfied with the decision of the apex court but have said that they respect the decision of the court and also expressed their desire to move to the Election Commission again on the issue. In fact, the opposition has again met Election Commission regarding the VVPAT issue but it is unlikely that they will get any relief from the election commission. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a review petition filed by 21 opposition parties seeking an increase in random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. The bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that Supreme Court was not inclined to hear same plea again and again. It rejected the plea of 21 opposition parties seeking a direction to election commission to increase VVPAT verification from 5 to at least 50 percent of the EVMs during counting of votes in the general election 2019. To be more specific the apex court dismissed plea seeking a review of the order directing election commission to increase random matching to five polling booths per assembly segment. The top court said we are not inclined to modify our order. This decision came on a review petition filed by 21 opposition parties seeking an increase in random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. The bench headed by chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said Supreme Court was not inclined to interfere. "We are not inclined to modify our order. For how many days will we hear the same matter". The Supreme Court bench said this while dismissing the review petition for random matching of VVPAT slips. Senior advocate A.M. Singhvi appearing for the petitioners told the bench that Apex court had increased the random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs to five polling booths per assembly segment and they are now seeking that it should be increased to 25 percent atleast. But the Apex court disagreed with the opposition plea and rejected it. Supreme court junks review plea. This was second time that the top court turned down their plea. During the hearing of the review petition, the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi asked A.M. Singhvi senior advocate for opposition parties, "How much counting do you want now?" When Singhvi said that they had asked for 50 percent but were ready to settle for 33 percent or 25 percent verification. Gogoi responded with saying that they decline to review their earlier order and dismissed the review petition. The Supreme Court had earlier directed the election commission to increase the number of counting of VVPAT slips from one to five booths per assembly constituency. Chandra Babu Naidu said that we respect the Supreme Court order but we will now request the election commission to revise their guidelines. If a discrepancy is found in any of the five EVMs or VVPATs then counting should be done for all the booths in the assembly constituencies. VVPATs are being used for the first time in any Lok Sabha elections, they have till now been used in some parliamentary and assembly by polls. The leaders from six national and fifteen regional parties, claiming to represent 70-75 percent of the population have also sought the setting aside of the election commission of India guide lines on random verification of assembly seats. Now that the review has been dismissed, the opposition parties can take recourse of curative petition but they have decided and in fact have gone to election commission to seek the redressal of their grievances. But the election commission is unlikely to give any sought of relief to opposition parties. Earlier the opposition parties have complained of malfunctioning of EVMs and bogus voting. It seems that the opposition parties have no agenda and also have sensed their defeat in the elections and are thus raking up non issues and this will do no good to the opposition. They have seen the writing on the wall and are thus raising the unnecessary issues to divert the attention of the voters from the main issues. The opposition plea was led by its leader Chandra Babu Naidu to review its judgment regarding five percent random physical verification of electronic voting machines using voter verified paper audit trial. The court's decision was however a far short from what the opposition wanted - VVPAT verification in 50 percent or 125 polling booths in each constituency. The opposition also pointed large scare tampering and selective malfunctioning of EVMs in the Lok Sabha elections. ECI has said that a 50 percent random verification of VVPATs would delay the election results by many days and this is not in the interest of the democracy. Naidu along with NC president Farooq Abdullah and CPI, M.P D. Raja were present in the court room when Supreme Court announced the dismissal of the review petition in a minute to increase the matching of VVPAT slips from five to twenty five percent per assembly segment in the Lok Sabha elections. The April 8 order had said that increasing the random matching to five polling booths will provide greater satisfaction not only to political parties but to the whole electorate. The 21 opposition parties had pleaded that the increase from one to five polling booths per assembly segment is not reasonable but court disagreed and rejected the review petition. They further said that 2 percent increase in random matching of VVPAT with EVMs will not increase public confidence among the voters. Anyway the decision of the top court is a great setback to opposition which is seeking alibis for its would be debacle in the general elections even before the declaration of results on 23rd May, 2019.
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