Mumbai: Senior BJP leader and former Maharashtra minister Eknath Khadse on Sunday wondered over his party’s stand of not believing in any EVM hacking claims, but taking seriously a computer hacker’s allegations against him.
In 2016, “ethical” hacker Manish Bhangale had accused Khadse of receiving calls from underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s Karachi residence. Khadse had stoutly denied the charge and Bhangale was arrested in March 2017 for allegedly creating a fake phone bill to establish his allegation. “How come my party trusted hacker Manish Bhangale’s claims and without any substantial evidence let one’s life get devastated. Who has given you right to affect one’s life based on some news which had no substantial evidence,” he said.
Khadse was speaking at a public rally in Jalgaon, his home district in North Maharashtra. The former minister, in his speech, made a reference to the BJP’s official stand of not relying on any claims made by a cyber expert based in London last week. The expert, Syed Shuja, had claimed electronic voting machines (EVMs) can be hacked. He had claimed the 2014 general election was “rigged” through EVMs, a charge rubbished by the BJP and also the Election Commission.
Shuja had also sought to link alleged EVM tampering with the fatal road accident of senior BJP leader and Union minister Gopinath Munde just after the BJP won the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. From time to time, Khadse, who was once seen as No. 2 in the Devendra Fadnavis cabinet, has been expressing his disappointment with the BJP leadership on being sidelined in the party. Khadse, who held several key portfolios, resigned in June 2016 after facing a string of allegations, including irregularities in a land deal.