On 6 May, when India was voting for the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha polls, a mysterious video of a van full of EVMs wandering on a Lucknow road without any security went viral. What caught the attention of journalist Anurag Dhanda, who shared the video, was that the van was seen moving around with so many EVMs even before the polling process had come to an end. Lucknow too was voting in the fifth phase with Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking a re-election.
Days later, old RTI replies obtained by a Mumbai-based activist, Manoranjan Roy, has become a topic of intense social media discussion on the curious case of 20 lakh missing EVMs. As reported by Janta Ka Reporter, Roy in April last year had alleged that an RTI reply obtained from the manufacturers of the EVMs and the central government pointed to huge discrepancies.
According to Roy, as reported by The Hindu Group’s Frontline Magazine, the Election Commission told him in an RTI reply that it received 10,05,662 EVMs from BEL (an EVM manufacturer) between 1989-90 and 2014-15. ECI also stated that it received 10,14,644 EVMs from ECIL (which is another manufacturer) between 1989-90 and 2016-17. However, as reported by Janta Ka Reporter in April last year, Bengaluru-based BEL had said that it supplied 19,69,932 EVMs to the ECI between 1989-90 and 2014-15. The RTI reply by the Hyderabad-based Electronics Corporation of India Ltd had said that it supplied 19,44,593 EVMs to the ECI. Thus, Frontline magazine report said that in a span of around 15 years the ECI has not received 9,64,270 EVMs that BEL states to have delivered and 9,29,949 EVMs that ECIL affirms to have delivered to it.
Speaking to Janta Ka Reporter, Roy had asked, “Where are these excess number of EVMs going, what is being done with them.” He had said that ‘something very suspicious is going on between these organisations.’
The reliability of EVMs in this election has been a topic of intense discussion with most malfunctioning machines favouring the BJP. In one specific instance, the BJP candidate had polled 17 votes during a mock poll in Goa even though the votes assigned to him were just nine. The ECI had later admitted fault and replaced the EVM set at that polling booth.
Earlier, this week, the Supreme Court refused to entertain a review plea by 21 opposition parties to increase the mandatory tallying of 50% VVPAT machines with that of EVMs on the day of the counting.
In 2017, an exclusive report by Janta Ka Reporter had established a link between those who manufactured the microchips for the EVMs and the beneficiaries of Rs 20,000 crore gas scam in Gujarat during Narendra Modi’s term as chief minister.