The opposition parties should start a nationwide agitation on the lines of Mahatma Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement to demand reelection on paper ballots.
By Rakesh Raman
As expected, Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the Lok Sabha election to retain power in the country of 1.3 billion people and 900 million voters. Modi will be the PM again.
The election results being declared today (May 23) showed that BJP is winning the majority of the 543 Lok Sabha seats and BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is getting more than 300 seats to form the government for the second 5-year term. A party or a group needs 272 seats to win the Lok Sabha election.
On the other hand, the main opposition party Congress performed poorly and could not make any impact while the Congress-led group United Progressive Alliance (UPA) tottered at about 100-seat mark, although the full election results have not yet been declared.
Despite loud pre-poll promises – including jobs to the youth, cash to the poor, and support to small businesses – by Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Congress lost the election.
Moreover, allegations of corruption leveled by Rahul Gandhi on Modi – particularly in the Rafale deal – proved futile and could not give votes and seats to Congress in the election.
Modi-led BJP did not have much to boast about its performance during the past 5 years because BJP had failed on all fronts. However, in order to woo the voters, Modi largely attacked Rahul Gandhi’s family saying that Congress is promoting dynastic politics.
Modi also harangued about his resolve to firmly deal with the enemy nation Pakistan. It is also alleged that Modi and BJP stage-managed a terror attack on Indian security personnel in the Pulwama district of Jammu & Kashmir. Many believe that Modi government itself had conspired that attack to win public sympathy and thus electoral advantage.
Modi also spread the fear of war with Pakistan in order to win public support in the Lok Sabha election, although there was no possibility of war with the neighboring nation. In an election rally, Modi said loosely without any provocation that India has the nuclear option to attack Pakistan.
How Machines Beat Men
The election campaigns including rallies by BJP and the opposition parties during the past few months were only theatrical exercises to deceive the public. Those who are familiar with the deceit in Indian politics knew that the flesh-and-blood voters have no role in Indian elections.
Now, only voting machines decide the fate of a political party. Since all the election paraphernalia works under the ruling party such as BJP, machines are made to help the ruling party win.
It is observed that BJP has been exploiting the vulnerability of electronic voting machines (EVMs) to win different elections. The same was evident in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
You can click here to download the following research paper.
Research Paper: Attack of the Machines on Democracy in India
How EVMs Are Manipulated to Win Elections
Although the results of the election were declared Thursday, May 23, BJP-led NDA had started celebrating the party’s victory and planning for the next 5 years of Modi government a couple of days before the declaration of results on Tuesday, May 21, at New Delhi.
Obviously, BJP knew that voters may reject Modi’s party but EVMs won’t. Major opposition political parties in India have been repeatedly complaining 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.
However, instead of rejecting the EVMs and forcefully demanding the elections on paper ballots, the opposition parties willy-nilly accept EVMs and after losing the elections they keep blaming these machines. Most opposition leaders are so weak and naive that they do not understand the functioning of EVMs and how they are manipulated.
While the opposition leaders kept holding nationwide rallies to deliver speeches on their plans and denounce Modi’s policies, they failed to fathom that machines were silently working to vanquish them in the electoral battlefield.
Today, there is no opposition leader who is smart enough to counter and combat the electronic machines. All opponents of Modi failed to anticipate the extent of damage that machines can cause to them and eventually remove their very existence from the political arena.
Modi knows about the naivety and weakness of his opponents and ridiculed them. Recently, Modi said that EVMs are being cursed because his opponents have realized that people of India love Modi and it will not be possible to defeat him and his party BJP. So, he said, they have started finding faults with EVMs.
God only knows if people love Modi. But it is certain that machines are instructed to love him. It is largely believed that BJP has tampered with the EVMs to win the election. It is also being alleged that just before the counting the actual machines used in the election were secretly replaced with other machines which had most votes for BJP candidates.
The opposition parties complained aggressively about the frauds on EVMs that help BJP win. The leaders of 22 opposition parties– that represent over 75% of Indian voters – met the Election Commission of India (ECI) – a couple of days before the counting to complain about the manipulations of EVMs that are supposed to favor BJP.
The opposition parties that have been constantly opposing EVMs include Congress, All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Communist Party of India (CPI-M), Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), and others.
However, the ECI – which is working in a dubious manner – dismissed the complaints of opposition leaders who submitted a memorandum to the ECI on May 21. They had urged that the verification of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips of randomly identified 5 polling booths should be done before starting the counting of votes and not after the completion of last round of counting.
In the memorandum, the opposition leaders also had demanded that if any discrepancy is found anywhere during the VVPAT verification, 100% counting of paper slips of VVPATs of all polling stations of that assembly segment should be done.
However, the ECI – which is controlled by the Modi government – firmly rejected the opposition’s demand and declared that there will be no change in the EVM vote counting procedure.
The autocratic election authorities refuse to accept the fact that even if a single voter has any doubt about the election process, they are supposed to allay that doubt by ensuring transparency in the election systems. However, the Indian elections are being held in a totally opaque manner. There is no option for voters to know where there votes have gone.
Now, just to ensure the sanctity of the election exercise and save the Indian democracy from electoral frauds, the opposition leaders must reject the results delivered by the EVMs.
They should start a nationwide agitation on the lines of Mahatma Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement to demand reelection for the Lok Sabha (as well as state elections) on paper ballots. If the opposition leaders succumbed now, it will herald an era of their extinction and will eventually ring the death knell for democracy in India.
By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society. He also creates and publishes a number of digital publications on different subjects.
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