No info on EVMs for parallel polls: EC

New Delhi: The Election Commission does not have any “material information” on the number of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) needed to conduct simultaneous elections, the panel has said in a reply to an RTI query.

Pune-based Vihar Durve, through his RTI application, had approached the Commission seeking to know the availability and need of EVMs and VVPAT to carry out elections across the country in ‘one nation, one poll’ mode.

In his response, Election Commission undersecretary Madhusudan Gupta said, “The information sought by you is not available in any material form as mentioned under Section 2 (f) of the Right to Information Act.”

The section defines information as “any material in any form, including records, documents, emails, opinions, advices, press releases, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, data material held in any electronic fo-rm and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force”.

In their discussions on holding simultaneous elections in the country, the EC officials had said they would need around `4,500 crore to buy nearly 12 lakh additional EVMs and an equal number VVPAT machines. The estimate was based on the current cost to procure the devices.

BJP president Amit Shah had written to the Law Commission on August 13 supporting holding the Lok Sabha and assembly polls simultaneously. A paper by the Law Commission had recommended holding the Lok Sabha and assembly polls in two phases beginning 2019.

Political parties are divided on the issue. Besides, NDA constituent Shiromani Akali Dal, AIADMK, Samajwadi Party and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti have supported it. The Congress, Trinamool Congress, Aam Aadmi Party, DMK, Telugu Desam Party, Left parties and the JD(S) have opposed the proposal.

“On the issue of ‘one nation, one poll’, the Election Commission had given inputs and suggestions in 2015 itself...Other requirements of additional police force, polling personnel would also be needed,” Chief Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat had said.

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