West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday claimed that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) used in the recently-held Lok Sabha elections were "programmed" and urged the opposition parties to start a movement demanding a fact finding committee to probe the issue.Terming the Lok Sabha polls, which were swept by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as "scandalous", Banerjee said that if needed, the opposition parties should hold demonstrations outside the Election Commission's (EC) office in New Delhi against the alleged malpractices of the saffron party."We have a doubt that the EVMs were programmed and the matter should be probed. I have told all my friendly political parties that there should be a fact finding committee about this. If needed, there should be demonstrations outside the EC head office. I want to request the Congress and the other opposition parties that let us start a movement," Banerjee told reporters at the Trinamool headquarters here."It has been a scandalous election. We do not even know how much money did they (BJP) spend in this election. Some are saying Rs 24,000-27,000 crore. Where did the money come from," she asked.
When asked whether she would take the initiative to lead the opposition parties in the movement, she said, "I am a simple person. I can only give suggestions. I do not stay in Delhi, as I am in Bengal. So whoever is in Delhi should take up the initiative and we will join them."Referring to a recent report that a PIL filed before the Bombay High Court had claimed that 20 lakh EVMs have gone missing from the EC's possession, Banerjee said the alleged displacement of such a large number of voting machines "definitely raised many questions"."We have seen that in 20-30 per cent of the areas (in Bengal), the EVMs were not working and when the new machines came, they may have been overloaded or programmed," she claimed.The Trinamool Congress supremo also advocated large scale electoral reforms in the country before the next elections and demanded that there should be a Collegium system in the EC much like the Supreme Court."I want electoral reforms and state funding in the elections, not party funding. The Election Commission should be given more power," Banerjee said."I do not think just three nominated persons should be allowed to conduct the elections in the name of democracy. There must be a Collegium. If there can be Collegium in the Supreme Court, why not in the EC," she asked.