The opposition parties in India have failed to realize that a major shakeup is happening in the political world where the success of the political parties is being determined by their ability to rig the elections.
By Rakesh Raman
The new Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of India Om Prakash Rawat has been quoted as saying that he prefers a connectivity between Indian citizens’ Aadhaar numbers and voters’ identity.
Aadhaar is a 12-digit individual identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on behalf of the Government of India. This number serves as a proof of identity and address, anywhere in India.
I support linking Aadhaar to voters’ identity: New CEC Om Prakash Rawat https://t.co/qKmjtHkWaW
— TOI India (@TOIIndiaNews) January 22, 2018
Rawat, a retired bureaucrat, believes that biometric data in Aadhaar should confirm the identity of voters before they use the electronic voting machine (EVM) to cast their vote.
He, however, does not want Aadhaar data integrated into EVMs, suggesting that EVMs must remain standalone machines with no connection to any other device or to the Internet.
But Rawat’s strange suggestion that Aadhaar cards should be linked with voters’ identity lends credence to the fact that the combination of Aadhaar and EVMs can be used for voting frauds in India.
Although the ruling party BJP of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in favor of EVMs, the opposition parties have raised serious doubts about the security of these machines.
Major political parties in India have repeatedly complained about the vulnerability of EVMs. It is also being observed that when EVMs malfunction, they vote only in favor of Modi’s BJP which runs with Lotus election symbol.
Now Aadhaar is adding fuel to the fire as Modi government – through UIDAI – is forcing Indians to use Aadhaar. Although the Aadhaar issue is being debated in the Supreme Court of India, the decision is not expected to go in citizens’ favor. The less said about the Indian courts, the better.
Although Rawat suggested that there should not be any connectivity between Aadhaar and EVM through Internet, the possibility of such a digital handshake cannot be ruled out. With Aadhaar-EVM connectivity, millions of votes can be collected unscrupulously for a particular party.
Russia is believed to be an expert nation to change the outcome of elections by exploiting digital vulnerabilities. It is largely believed that Russia used its tech prowess to interfere in the U.S. presidential election to help Donald Trump win.
Subsequently, a former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein had raised doubts about the faulty EVMs and stolen voter databases in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Stein had launched the Count My Vote Campaign, saying that machine insecurity, inconstant practices, and the large number of vote changes all point to a system that is broken. It is believed that Russian hackers helped Trump campaign steal voter databases and change vote count in Trump’s favor. The possibility of Trump-Russia ties is currently being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
The voter databases in the U.S. are similar to Aadhaar databases in India. It is possible to hack the Aadhaar databases, link the individual records with the EVMs, and change the vote count in favor of a particular candidate of a particular party.
Since Aadhaar is expected to be the primary target to steal votes, the Modi government is making Aadhaar compulsory for all bank account holders, mobile phone users, and others, although most of them have already submitted their different identities with the banks and mobile operators.
Since there is hardly any active opposition political party in India, the Modi government is expected to impose its Aadhaar preference on Indians and win elections.
This article is part of our new editorial section that focuses on Lok Sabha Election 2019 in India.
The opposition parties have failed to realize that a major shakeup is happening in the political world where the success of the political parties is being determined by their ability to rig the elections, and not by their pre-election rhetoric.
And the opposition voices will not be heard if BJP could manage to win the future elections by using the magical Aadhaar-EVM combination.
By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. Besides working at senior editorial positions with leading media companies, he was writing an exclusive edit-page tech business column (named Technophile) regularly for The Financial Express (a daily business newspaper of The Indian Express Group).
Earlier, he had been associated with the United Nations (UN) through United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) as a digital media expert to help businesses use technology for brand marketing and business development. He also runs a free school for deserving children under his NGO – RMN Foundation.