Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Balasaheb Thorat has written a letter to the state Chief Electoral Officer suggesting measures for "free and fair elections" in the state including installation of network jammers in and around strong rooms where EVMs are stored till counting.
"Post polling in the state, the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are shifted to the strong room at various locations. It is important to note that a large section of our citizens apprehend that these EVMs can be tampered with and hence is a grave threat to democracy," Thorat wrote in his letter to the state Chief Electoral Officer.
He later suggested that "installation of 'Network Jammers' is highly necessary in and around strong rooms where these EVMs are stored till counting." "These jammers should be installed during counting process as well. We hereby demand an immediate installation of such network jammers for all Assembly constituencies across the state without any further delay," he wrote.
The Maharashtra Congress Committee president further suggested, "We would like to request you to make and declare the result sheet for each round of counting and for that particular round. Only after the result sheet for that particular round is prepared, duly signed by the returning officer and provided to all the parties, then and then only the EVMs of next round should be opened for counting."
Thorat stated that as per Election Commission guidelines, certain VVPATs are made available for physical verification. "We hereby request you to grant our candidate liberty to select the EVMs to be tested against VVPAT slips out of the total EVMs available," he wrote.
He has also demanded that in any doubtful EVM case, that same machine should be allowed for counting four times in a row at that moment. "We hereby reiterate our demand for testing 50 per cent EVMs against VVPAT slips for physical verification," he added.
In Maharashtra, the 'Mahayuti' alliance of BJP, Shiv Sena and smaller parties is against the 'Maha-agadhi' led by the Congress and the NCP. In the saffron alliance, BJP will be contesting on 150 seats, and Shiv Sena will fight on 124 seats in Maharashtra. Alliance partners of BJP have fielded 14 candidates on the party's lotus symbol. Meanwhile, the Congress is contesting the polls in alliance with the NCP. Both parties are contesting on 125 seats each in the 288-member Assembly and its allies on the remaining 38 seats.
Currently, the BJP holds 122 seats, while the Shiv Sena holds 63 seats. The Opposition held by UPA has 42 seats. Earlier in May, the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance won 41 seats while the UPA was reduced to merely 5 seats. The results of the state Assembly elections will be announced on October 24.