Any step towards electoral reform should come only after extensive consultation with stakeholders, including political parties, Union Law minister Kiren Rijiju said on Wednesday. He was addressing a gathering in Delhi on the occasion of the 13th National Voters’ Day.
The Law minister’s statement comes owing to a number of proposals sent by the Election Commission of India pending with the Law ministry, including the one to implement remote voting for migrants. The EC’s proposal had come in for criticism from several political parties and its scheduled presentation of the RVM prototype to political parties was called off after parties called for further discussions.
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“At this time, we have many proposals pending with us, but I believe we should go forward with any electoral reform after a lot of discussion. It has been our practice to have discussions with political parties; sometimes even taking suggestions from the general public and continuous consultation with the government. This is a symbol of a vibrant democracy. Any step should be taken after discussion,” the Law minister said.
The remote EVMs are aimed at addressing the issue of migrants being unable to vote since they move out of their constituency to other places for work. Remote voting, if implemented, can potentially remove the biggest roadblock in voters missing out on their right to exercise their franchise due to internal migration, the EC had said while announcing the concept last month.
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However, ahead of the EC’s scheduled presentation on January 16, several Opposition parties opposed the proposal for remote voting, terming it “sketchy” and “not concrete”.
The Congress, for instance, had raised concerns over the process for the identification and registration of the remote voters of a constituency and deciding the location of the remote polling stations.
Logistics involved for political parties, specifically how polling agents would monitor remote voting in different locations away from the constituency, besides the counting process which includes the storage and transport of VVPAT slips, as well as the EC’s count of 30 crore migrants, were among the other concerns raised by the Opposition parties.