Free Press Journal

Let EVMs be checked before Guj polls, demands Cong


New Delhi : Expressing fears that the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party will once again manipulate the electronic voting machines (EVMs) as seen in the civic body polling in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday, the Congress on Thursday demanded that a task force headed by a Supreme Court judge should undertake a thorough examination of all machines to be used in the Gujarat Assembly elections.

“There are genuine doubts about the EVMs. Why is the BJP the beneficiary invariably every time the EVM malfunctions? We think the use of VVPAT (Vote-verifiable paper audit trail) machines is not enough. Paper trail anyway is not the remedy for a rigged machine. As a pilot project in Gujarat, let every single machine be examined before voting under the supervision of a Supreme Court judge,” Party spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi demanded.

Arguing that the outcome of an election can change even if five per cent of EVMs are manipulated, he said: “We can only raise questions, petition the EC and create awareness among the people. We can’t stop polls. The decision will be taken by the EC and the Government. The Prime Minister needs to come clean on this issue. The media too should create awareness and highlight that democracy won’t survive without a fair poll.”

He cited reports from Meerut that one EVM in the municipal poll on Wednesday kept registering votes to the BJP irrespective of the voter pressing any button. One person who voted for the Bahujan Samaj Party saw his vote going to the BJP and created a ruckus. The polling officials changed the machine saying it was faulty. Complaints came from several places.

Singhvi recalled that every faulty machine in the last few years has fixed the votes for BJP. Similar complaints did come from Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Rajasthan and Delhi when any button pushed will register a vote only for the BJP.

He said the Congress had submitted a long list of demands before the Election Commission, fearing manipulation in the Gujarat elections. Serious complaints of wrong-doing also came up during the Uttarakhand assembly elections and the Maharashtra civic polls.

Singhvi said: “Fair election is linked to the basic structure of Constitution as democracy rests on people’s mandate. The Election Commission’s credibility too is at stake. If there is any doubt, it is the duty of the commission to dispel them and restore the people’s confidence. The irony is that the Modi Government was not even releasing funds for VVPATs despite Supreme Court order. They did it under our pressure.”

The EC has so far not allowed experts and political parties to physically examine the EVMs while repeatedly asserting that the machines were tamper-proof. Curiously, the commission even objected to the order of the Uttarakhand High Court for the seizure of machines used in a constituency while hearing an election petition.