Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Wednesday said that the Narendra Modi government was not providing funds to the Election Commission (EC) to buy VVPAT machines despite the apex court's orders, raising doubts about its intentions.Participating in a short discussion in the Rajya Sabha on electoral reforms, Azad said the EC had sent repeated reminders in three years to the government to provide funds to buy voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines, but the government did not pay heed."In October 2013, the Supreme Court ordered there should be VVPAT machines along with Electronic Voting Machines. The EC wrote to the Law Ministry to provide Rs 3,100 crore for buying 16 lakh VVPATs. Since 2014, it has sent 10 reminders to the Law Ministry and a few months back sent an SOS to the Prime Minister," the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha said.
"But government is not acting despite 12 letters from the EC and Supreme Court's order, raising serious doubts about its intentions," he added.The Congress leader alleged that the 300-plus seats won by the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh was "thanks to EVMs and not voters".Azad also drew the house's attention to putting a cap on parties' poll expenditure."A cap on candidates' expenditure is a welcome step. But there should also be a cap on parties' expenditure. A party can afford to use 70-80 jets and choppers during election campaign, but others cannot afford even one chopper," he said."The election expenditure by parties should be audited and tabled in Parliament," he said.Azad said the "first past the post" system currently in use in India to decide election winners should be reviewed.