Bring back paper ballot to save democracy: Mamata

Kolkata: Accusing the BJP of winning the Lok Sabha polls by misusing muscle, money and government power, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday called for bringing back the system of paper ballots that was in use prior to electronic voting machines (EVMs) to save democracy.

"We have gone through the elections fighting against all the muscle, money, government, institutional power which were misused. Our workers fought boldly. We were discussing how money was looted and how money power destroyed democracy, as it is a true fact," she said after a meeting with here party officials, MPs and MLAs at the state secretariat.

"They (BJP) got 18 seats (in Bengal) with money, muscle, government, communal and media power. They had targeted 23 seats and maybe EVMs were pre-programmed in favour of them," Banerjee said.

"The verdict was not spontaneous and the BJP's victory was not based on people's support. It was through an artificial mechanism, that is why they have been trying to capture party offices."

She also said the party would organise "public relations" marches across the state ahead of the Trinamool Congress' annual Martyrs' Day rally on July 21.

"The July 21 rally originated from our movement which was for 'No Identity Card, No Vote'. Our 13 workers were shot dead by the then CPI (M) government," she said.

"We are starting a movement 'Save Democracy, Bring Back Ballots'. We do not want (electronic voting) machines but want ballots to save democracy," she added.

Appealing to opposition parties to raise their voices for bringing back ballots, Banerjee vowed to start the movement from the state that would spread across India.

The Chief Minister also said that she "does not consider the poll results based on EVMs to be the people's verdict".

"How do you prove that there was no pre-planned programming? The Election Commission should supervise this but they did not. You allow only two per cent votes to be counted and what about 98 per cent votes in the machine?" she asked.

"Several machines were replaced as many of them started malfunctioning during poll day. Mock polls were not conducted in case of new machines. How can one prove that the substitute machines were not pre-programmed?" she said.

Accusing the BJP of defaming Bengal's dignity by circulating fake news which only present the state as a place of violence and hooliganism, she said state government would soon start campaigns to showcase the state's culture.

Noting that there are differences between Lok Sabha, Assembly, municipal and gram panchayat elections as their characters are different, she accused a section of the media of highlighting "inflated data" regarding the state Assembly segment-wise results of the recent Lok Sabha polls.

"Your arithmetic was not right. Despite all this, we had clean majority in 164 Assembly segments in this Lok Sabha elections. Our vote per cent also increased," Banerjee said.

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