Hyderabad: Former Chief Election Commissioner T S Krishnamurthy said that he sees no end to Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) bashing as losers in elections would continue to grumble against their usage. Several opposition parties have raised doubts over the credibility and efficacy of EVMs and claimed that they can be tampered with and manipulated.
On some parties demanding that all votes polled through EVMs be verified with at least 50 per cent Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs), Krishnamurthy said if they lose polls, they would call it inadequate. "So, this game will go on. I think they (EVM bashing parties) are more interested in paper ballot, which will give more opportunity for more frauds; but if this is what they want, what can we do?" he said.
"They will keep on grumbling. Those who are not winning, they will grumble; those who are winning they will keep quiet; when they (those who won earlier) lose, they will grumble. This game goes on,there is no end to it," he told PTI. Krishnamurthy, who oversaw the 2004 general elections, also called for arming the Election Commission with extra powers.
According to him, imposing campaign curbs for 24 hours or 48 hours or 72 hours for hate speeches are inadequate and "will not solve the problem". "In my opinion, if there are hate speeches, first offence...you can give them some kind of warning, second offence...one week's ban, third offence...they must be disqualified," Krishnamurthy advocated. During the election process time, the EC must have powers to suspend, disqualify or debar a person, he said.
The model of conduct, which comes into effect once the election schedule is declared, is not a law and the EC can only issue warnings and reprimand in case of violations, Krishnamurthy noted. "Considering the way politicians behave today, it's not adequate, you must make them realise that they have to pay a price for hate speeches," he stressed.
Noting the smashing of an EVM by a party candidate in Anantapuram district of Andhra Pradesh during voting on April 11, Krishnamurthy said only an FIR could be filed against him. "If his (the candidate's) party comes to power, FIR may be withdrawn; this is the way things are happening. So we have to be tough in certain regard, and for that you need certain powers (for EC)", he said.
Krishnamurthy also said he had always held the view that there was no point in having an expenditure ceiling for candidates contesting elections when there was no such limit for political parties. He added that a collegium should select Election Commissioners -- and not the government, which is the practice at present -- on the lines of the appointment of the Chief Vigilance Commissioner.
"EC has recommended this (Election Commissioners' selection by collegium), but political parties in power are not interested in the change. Opposition parties when they come to power, they forget about it," Krishnamurthy added.