Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav is rallying Opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh against the use of Electronic Voting Machines in the long-pending Lok Sabha by-elections in Gorakhpur and Phulpur.
Mr. Yadav convened a meeting with representatives of various Opposition parties here at the Janeshwar Mishra Trust office on Saturday to build consensus.
However, the initiative lacked political muscle as the two other major non-BJP parties, the BSP and Congress, did not attend the meeting.
According to leaders present in the meeting, they unanimously decided that they were against the use of EVM in the upcoming polls and favoured voting through ballot papers.
“We don’t trust the EVM and it was agreed upon by all parties, barring the CPM, that ballot paper should be used. All leaders and parties which attended the meet will write to the Election Commission soon demanding that the upcoming polls be held through ballot paper,” Ramesh Dixit, Nationalist Congres Party state president, told The Hindu.
The CPI(M) supported the use of VVPATs in counting and had reservations over ballot paper, Mr. Dixit said.
Apart from Mr. Yadav, the SP contingent was represented by senior leaders like Azam Khan, Ramgovind Chaudhary, Ahmed Hasan, Naresh Uttam Patel and Rajendra Chaudhary. Sanjay Nishad of the Nishad Party, Mohammad Ayub of Peace Party, Pallavi Patel of Apna Dal (Krishna Patel faction), Ramesh Dixit of the NCP, Ashok Singh of the RJD and former BSP leader Nasimuddin Siddiqui attended the meeting. Representatives of the RLD, AAP and JD(U) faction of Sharad Yadav were also present.
Ram Achal Rajbhar, BSP UP president, did not explain why there was no representation from the party in the meeting and said he was travelling in Uttarakhand where he had prior plans. He, however, said that his leader Mayawati had already made her point clear against EVM and even gone to court on the issue.
Congress spokesperson Amarnath Agarwal said that the party had received an invitation but did not send any representation. However, Mr. Agarwal said the party had sent a letter of consent to the SP on the issue.