New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday listed electronic voting machines (EVMs) as one of the breakthroughs that had lent credibility to the Indian electoral process.
"The Election Commission has been quick in keeping itself abreast with technological changes and in introducing improvements in the electoral process," Manmohan Singh said in his address at the inaugural session of the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Election Commission of India.
Listing the achievements of the poll panel, the prime minister said ballot papers and ballot boxes being replaced by EVMs and results declared in one day "in some sense is a breakthrough".
Manmohan Singh`s commendation comes in the backdrop of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and some rights activists raising questions over the proper functioning of EVMs.
After the Lok Sabha elections in April-May last year, the BJP had raised fears about the alleged malfunctioning of voting machines.
The opposition party had said that EVMs were "electronic victory machines" for the Congress.
According to Manmohan Singh, however, technological advancement in the electoral process had lent credibility and enhanced the transparency of the electoral process.
"A large proportion of our voters have voter identity cards, proceedings in sensitive polling booths are videographed, political parties have free time on national television. These improvements have contributed not only to the speedy conduct of elections but also to enhancing the transparency and credibility of the whole electoral process," he said.
The prime minister in his address also praised the poll panel for the gigantic task it faces in conducting free and fair elections.
"The Election Commission was given the task of converting (an) aspiration into a reality in which every adult Indian, irrespective of caste, creed, gender, income or location would get an opportunity to cast his or her vote. This was undoubtedly a gigantic task," he said.
"The commission rose to the challenge. It goes to the commission`s credit that despite these enormous difficulties the whole world perceives elections in India as being fair and free," the prime minister said.