Congress and AAP Allege BJP Will Manipulate EVMs to Win Elections

Every Indian Vote Counts
Every Indian Vote Counts

Now it is being argued that the so-called ‘Modi wave’ is not driven by voters, but it is driven by voting machines.

By Rakesh Raman

As the controversy surrounding the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) units has become a political hot potato, major opposition party Congress and Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have again expressed their concerns.

Both the parties allege that Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s party BJP will win the upcoming State as well as Lok Sabha elections by tampering with EVMs and avoiding the use of VVPATs.

Congress said Wednesday that the Election Commission of India (ECI) had promised in April last year that it will introduce VVPATs in all polling stations for the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

The procurement for 16.15 lakh VVPATs was approved and the order was placed with two PSUs namely Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL). The delivery of the machines was supposed to be complete by September 2018 so that the machines are ready for Lok Sabha election.

But much to the surprise of the nation, Congress says, there has been a heavy delay in delivery of machines. As of 19th June 2018, 14 months into the process of procurement, only 22% of the machines have been delivered.

Kejriwal’s AAP fears that Modi government will never want VVPAT machines on all EVM’s and elections will happen without paper trail. According to AAP, BJP will rig the elections by using old EVMs that vote only for BJP.

The Supreme Court of India had ordered the use of VVPATs in 2013 and the ECI had promised to put the system in place for 2019 elections. But Congress says it seems with the speed the process is moving forward, another election will pass by.

According to Congress, the debate on the VVPATs is integral given how the government is trying to suppress the very ethos of democracy. With continuous reports of failures and hacking of EVMs in the recent elections, it is imperative for the voter to know if their choice has been recorded correctly.

A VVPAT machine prints a slip of the vote cast by the voter. Such a system ensures a mechanism by which tampering of EVMs can be countered.

Congress says the BJP government’s lust for power is not unknown to the public. It is represented in their PR strategies of branding failed schemes, their reluctance to bring in VVPATs, and their push for simultaneous elections.

According to Congress, now it seems like the government is not even trying to optimize elections to the new machines. It adds the two PSUs which have been given the task of providing VVPATs are way behind their timeline to deliver on the promises.

This article is part of our exclusive editorial section that focuses on Lok Sabha Election 2019 in India.

Congress says the failure to get VVPATs in time for the elections can have a huge impact on the State Assembly and general elections of 2019 given the fact that EVMs can be tampered with, as has been seen in the recent times.

Now it is being argued that the so-called ‘Modi wave’ is not driven by voters, but it is driven by voting machines.

In such a scenario, Congress says, the BJP government is liable to answer questions the electorate has as to why there is such a delay by the two companies? With a clear deadline of September 2018 to procure all the VVPATs, why has the ministry not ensured that the machines be delivered on time?

The nation has answers while the BJP has only silence to offer, Congress said.

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.

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