EVMs: Tamperproof? Vulnerable?
Opposition makes EC to look into tampering
New Delhi: As the countdown for counting of votes for Lok Sabha election results began, the Election Commission of India has decided to meet on Wednesday to look into the demands made by the leaders representing 21 Opposition parties.
Opposition leaders, who claim that they represent 70 per cent of the voters in the country, met on Tuesday to discuss the issue of counting of VVPATs and the delay by EC in issuing guidelines to the CEOs on what should be done in case there was a discrepancy in the VVPAT slips and EVM results.
Later, they met the Election Commission of India and submitted a memorandum demanding the Election Commission to issue instructions that the random sample of VVPAT slips from five polling booths in each constituency be counted first and in case of any discrepancy all the VVPAT slips be counted.
Using the analogy of EC, they said if one blood sample was infected it means entire blood is infected and hence all VVPATS should be counted. Secondly, the counting of VVPAT slips should be taken up first and not that of EVMs.
This meeting gained importance on two counts. One, the BSP, SP and TMC also sent their representatives indicating that they are not averse to joining hands with them in the eventuality of NDA not getting the magic figure.
This however may be subject to acceptance of certain conditions which Mayawati had put before Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu when he met her on Saturday. The conditions include announcing her name as the PM candidate.
It also becomes important as the Supreme Court and Andhra Pradesh High Court dismissed the plea seeking 100 per cent matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs during counting.
The demand of the opposition got a further boost as former President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday expressed concern over reports of alleged tampering of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and said the onus of ensuring institutional integrity lay with the Election Commission of India (ECI).
Later talking to media, Chandrababu Naidu, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and others said that the EC assured them that it would meet on Wednesday to take a final decision on their demands.
It also clarified that it has not issued any instructions that no party agent should be allowed at the Assistant Returning Officers table when VVVPAT slips are counted.
This is false propaganda and would again send clear instructions to all the CEOs, the EC informed the opposition leaders.
These leaders said they pointed out that concerns of EVM tampering arose after the 2017 assembly elections in UP and the Supreme Court asked the EC to increase random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs from one to five polling booths per Assembly segment.
The Opposition also sought to know why EVMs movement was taking place in Punjab, Haryana, Bihar and UP - video clippings of which surfaced on Tuesday morning - but were told by the EC that it was a routine movement of the reserve machines.
In general, the EC, however, stuck to its claim that there could be no tampering at all as feared and that the losers always complained.
Naidu flew down to Karnataka in the evening to talk to Deve Gowda an Kumaraswamy alerted by the reports of the possibility of the latter dumping the alliance in Karnataka.