A policeman stands guard as voters wait in a queue to cast their ballot outside a polling station during Karnataka assembly elections at a village on the outskirts of Bengaluru. Photograph:( Reuters )
Seventeen opposition parties, including the Trinamool Congress, are planning to approach the Election Commission, demanding that ballot papers be used to conduct the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
The 17 parties would meet next week to discuss the plan.
"This is a matter on which all opposition parties agreed. We are planning to meet next week. We plan to go to Election Commission and demand that the EC conduct the coming Lok Sabha elections using ballot papers," TMC leader Derek O'Brien told reporters.
The initiative to solicit the support of all opposition parties on the matter was taken by TMC chief Mamata Banerjee yesterday, when she visited Parliament to meet opposition leaders and invite them for her planned rally in Kolkata on January 19.
Banerjee was heard appealing to opposition party leaders who visited her in the TMC office in Parliament, to send a joint delegation to the Election Commission over reports of EVM tampering and to demand that the 2019 general election be held on ballots.
"All opposition parties should go to EC on this matter. There should be a joint delegation of opposition parties to EC," Banerjee was heard telling opposition party leaders, including from the Congress.
The TMC had staged protests outside Parliament, questioning the neutrality of electronic voting machines, and demanded that ballot papers be brought back for the 2019 Lok Sabha election. The ruling party in West Bengal said it is a "common programme" that will unite all opposition parties.
Interestingly, Banerjee had also urged the Shiv Sena, a BJP ally, to be a part of the delegation.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray previously demanded that the 2019 Lok Sabha election be conducted using ballot papers instead of EVMs.