By Animesh Singh
New Delhi, Mar 19 (IANS): In what seems to be quite intriguing, almost four years after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections were held at 10 lakh polling booths, the number of Ballot Units (BUs) and Control Units (CUs) - which are components of EVMs - through which the general elections were conducted, seem to have come down, if the government's own submission in Parliament is to be believed.
In reply to an unstarred question in Lok Sabha on March 17, 2023, on the total numbers of BUs and CUs available in the country, law minister Kiren Rijiju in his written reply during the ongoing budget session, informed Parliament that in 2018 there were 13.95 lakh BUs and 10.56 lakh CUs available in the country.
M-3 model of EVMs are used presently by the Election Commission of India, the law minister had further informed in his response.
Interestingly though, the Election Commission in a press release issued on October 7, 2018, while elaborating on preparations for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, had informed that "Around 22.3 lakh BUs, 16.3 lakh CUs and nearly 17.3 lakh VVPATs will be used for the forthcoming elections in 2019."
Incidentally, the number of VVPATs should be the same as the number of BUs.
So as per the data given by the Election Commission in 2018, the number of EVMs were much higher on the eve of Lok Sabha polls than the figures given by the law minister in Parliament last week.
In short, going by the Union law minister's reply in Parliament on March 17, government conducted the 2019 Lok Sabha elections at 10 lakh polling stations with inadequate number of EVMs.
Further in Election Commission's press note dated March 10, 2019, announcing the schedule for Lok Sabha elections, the poll body had reiterated that for conducting elections at 10.35 lakh polling stations, 23.3 lakh BUs and 16.3 lakh CUs would be needed.
However even if the poll body's 2018 figures are to be taken into consideration, then compared to that, as per the figures given by law minister on March 17 in Lok Sabha, the BUs have come down by 8.35 lakh while CUs have come down by 5.74 lakh between 2018 and 2023, which seems quite baffling.
The Election Commission is governed by the law ministry.
An electronic voting machine (EVM) is designed with two units - the CU and the BU. These units are joined together by a cable.
The CU of the EVM is kept with the presiding officer or the polling officer. The BU is kept within the voting compartment for electors to cast their votes. This is done to ensure that the polling officer verifies voters' identity.