Amid the meeting of the delegation of the 21 Opposition parties led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP Chief N Chandrababu Naidu at Election Commission to meet EC officials over their concerns about Electronic Voting Machines and the VVPAT (Voter Verified Paper Trail Machines), former President Pranab Mukherjee has released a statement following remarks in the role of the poll panel in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, saying the elections were conducted "perfectly".
Taking to Twitter, Pranab Mukherjee stated that he is concerned at the reports of alleged tampering of voters' verdict.
"The safety and security of EVMs which are in custody of ECI is the responsibility of the Commission. There can be no room for speculations that challenge the very basis of our democracy," the former President said in the statement.
He further added urged the Election Commission to make sure that all speculations must be put to rest, since the onus of the ensuring institutional integrity lies with the poll body. Read his statement here:
Earlier on Tuesday, Pranab Mukherjee had said that right from the first election commissioner Sukumar Sen to the present election commissioners, the institution is working very well. He said all the three commissioners are appointed by the executive and they are doing their job well.
"You cannot criticise them, it was a perfect conduct of elections," he added.
Amidst the questions being raised over the security of EVMs, Press Information Bureau also released a statement saying that the "Polled EVMs are absolutely safe in Strongrooms".
Clarifying that reports of replacement of EVMs from the strongrooms are "absolutely false" and "factually incorrect", PIB stated that after the close of polls, "all polled EVMs and VVPATs were brought under security cover to the designated strongrooms, which are sealed with double locks, in the presence of the candidates and in the presence of Observers of the Election Commission".
The statement further stated that the strongrooms will be opened on the counting day in the presence of the candidates/agents and Observer under videography.
"The provisions and protocols have been explained to the political parties on multiple occasions including in several of the 93 meetings held with them at the Commission since the announcement of elections. All Chief Electoral Officers and District Election Officers have again been advised to brief the candidates on the elaborate counting arrangements," the statement stated.
Following the projections of the Exit Polls on Sunday which predicted a second term for the Narendra Modi government, several leaders from the Opposition parties stepped up its criticism of the poll panel.
Meanwhile, 22 parties of the opposition have submitted a memorandum before the EC, requesting that the verification of VVPAT slips of randomly identified (05) polling stations should be done prior to the initiation of counting of votes & not after the completion of last round of counting.
(With agency inputs)