Hours after Janta Ka Reporter sensationally revealed how a VVPAT machine attached to an Electronic Voting Machine was designed to only cast vote in favour of the BJP, opposition parties have stepped up pressure asking the Election Commission to return to ballot papers.
After meeting the EC on Saturday, Delhi chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, asked why the fault in the machine was always helping the BJP. Kejriwal asked for the software to be thoroughly examined to see if the the manipulation had been done by tinkering with the software.
“EVMs may be faulty, but every time they record votes for the BJP and not for the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and other parties…. The incident in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhind district was not the only one. In Assam too, there was a recent case of EVM being tampered with,” he claimed.
A delegation of senior Congress leaders comprising Mohan Prakash, Digvijaya Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia met Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi here demanded scrapping of EVMs forthwith and action against officials involved.
Congress’ Digvijay Singh said that he had never trusted the authenticity of the EVMs.
He said, “I don’t trust EVMs from the very starting. When the whole world is using ballot paper for elections, then what objection should we have.”
The Congress memorandum said, “in the face of revelations abour tampering of EVMs, it is necessary that the entire process should be reexamined thoroughly and all agencies and persons involved in maintenance, operation and data feedings of machines be examined before use of EVMs in further polls.”
Congress general secretary Mohan Prakash said, “We have demanded that elections be held on ballot paper because every section has expressed doubts on EVMs. If there are doubts on votes cast, then democracy is weakened.”
Another party general secretary Digvijay Singh said, “The next elections, be it in Gujarat or elsewhere, should be held with ballot papers and the use of EVMs be stopped.”
He also questioned the “compulsion” of “using EVMs whose chip was imported”.
“When elections all over the world, including in the developed countries, are taking place with ballot paper, why should we have problems in doing so,” Singh said, adding he had doubts on the efficacy of EVMs right from day one.
Singh added, “From (LK Advani) Advani to Mayawati to (Arvind) Kejriwal, I stand with them on this.” BJP veteran Advani had raised doubts over EVMs after 2009 polls.
The credibility of EVMs has come under huge scanner since the results for assembly elections in five states were announced last month.
To everyone’s surprise, the BJP and its allies had won 325 out of 403 seats in Uttar Pradesh and replicated similar performance even in Uttarakhand.
The BSP supremo Mayawati and Kejriwal had then alleged a large-scale fraud in EVMs.
On Friday night, as reported by Janta Ka Reporter, EVMs to be used for Ater bypolls in Bhind, was seen to be designed to help only the BJP as every button pressed only appeared to cast vote in favour of the saffron party.
Far from being alarmed, a flippant Chief Electoral Officer, Salina Singh, had asked journalists not to report the matter while jokingly threatening to send them to jail.
Friday’s development has forced even the EC to treat the matter with seriousness. Former CEC, SY Qureshi, who has all along rubbished the suggestions of EVM fraud, maintained a cautious approach on Saturday.
He quoted the Chief Election Commissioner, Nasim Zaidi as saying, “Cec’s quick response: I am getting factual report from deo n ceo Tmw I will see the delegation Veracity of statement will have to be checked.”
Cec's quick response:
I am getting factual report from deo n ceo
Tmw I will see the delegation
Veracity of statement will have to be checked https://t.co/eUJyOJ127I
— Dr. S.Y. Quraishi (@DrSYQuraishi) March 31, 2017
The Election Commission, meanwhile, has also sought a detailed report from the district poll authorities in Bhind, Madhya Pradesh on media reports that VVPAT was only dispensing slips of BJP symbol during a demonstration exercise.
VVPAT is a machine which dispenses a slip with the symbol of the party for which a person has voted for. The slip drops in a box but the voter cannot take it home. It has only been used on trial basis in some places.
An Assembly bypoll is due in Ater seat of Bhind district on April 9 where VVPAT-enabled machines would be used and a demonstration in front of state Chief Electoral Officer was part of the familiarisation exercise for poll officials.
“We have sought a detailed report from district election officer and would come up with a response in the evening,” a Commission spokesperson said.
At a hurriedly called press conference in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer Saleena Singh said her office and the district poll authorities had sent reports on the issue to the Election Commission.
“During the demonstration, the VVPAT first dispensed a slip with (BJP’s) lotus symbol but the second one had (Congress’) hand symbol,” she said.
Singh explained that if the VVPAT slip doesn’t reflect the voter’s choice correctly, one can file a declaration, and the election officer will have to follow a set procedure to verify the claim.
If the officer finds the claim to be correct, the voting will be stopped, the CEO said.
Asked about the reports that she threatened to send mediapersons to jail if they continued to say that VVPAT was dispensing only BJP slips, Singh said, “It was in a lighter vein.”
“Some elements, not mediapersons, twisted the issue,” she added.