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[Representational Image]Reuters file

The Election Commission on Friday held a meeting with all recognised national and state political parties to discuss issues related to Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT). They also discussed queries raised about making bribery in elections a cognizable offence, disqualification on framing of charges for the offence of bribery in elections, and suggestions on VVPAT recount rules.

Seven national parties and 35 state parties attended the meeting at Constitution Club in New Delhi.

In his inaugural address, Chief Election Commissioner Dr. Nasim Zaidi underlined the contribution of all political parties and stated that systemic improvements and progressive measures aimed at improving the electoral processes and systems have been evolved by the commission in cooperation with all political parties.

CEC referred the queries raised by some political parties about the incidents of alleged EVM manipulation at Bhind and Dholpur during the recently concluded byeelections, and reiterated that baseless perceptions were generated about these incidents and there was no case of biased vote results.

Commission highlighted the wide range of technical, administrative protocol and procedural safeguards that fortify the EVMs and VVPATs against any sort of manipulation or tampering. Zaidi said that commission is open to hear suggestions on how to further improve integrity and credibility of EVMs.

"We will hold a challenge and offer opportunity to political parties to demonstrate that EVMs used in the recently concluded Assemblies elections were tampered or that EVMs can be tampered even under the laid down technical and administrative safeguards," he added.

Zaidi stated that the commission will ensure 100 percent coverage of VVPATs in all future election to the Parliament and state Assembly elections.

"ECI will soon evolve a framework in this regard. To make the election process more transparent, the commission has made proposal for electoral reforms on misuse of money power and bribery during elections," he added.