Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) today triggered a fresh controversy with its live demonstration on the floor of the state Assembly in its step by step guide on how to tamper Electronic Voting Machines.
The only catch here was that the poll machine that party MLA and former software engineer Saurabh Bharadwaj failed to push home was that it was a prototype – something that resembles an EVM – and not one that the Election Commission uses for ‘actual’ polling. Alright, he did say the machine was ‘similar’ to an EVM, but then how does it matter?
Fact is, it does!
What makes this Assembly drama interesting is the backdrop. No, we are not talking about Kapil Mishra’s relentless tirade yet.
The AAP, which has been questioning the authenticity of EVMs ever since it suffered humiliating defeats in Punjab and Goa Assembly polls and the MCD, however, forgot that the Election Commission of India has in past had invited praise from many countries for successfully organising polls in the world’s largest democracy.
Perhaps the most pertinent reminder to AAP should be on what the courts have found on many occasions in the not-so-distant past.
* In 2001, the Madras High Court rejected the allegations that EVMs can be tampered with.
* In 2002, the Kerala High Court had upheld the use of EVMs.
* In 2004, the Karnataka High Court had hailed the EVMs as ‘national pride’.
* A year later, the Bombay High Court concluded that EVMs can’t be tampered with.
"There is also no question of introducing any virus or bugs for the reason that the EVMs cannot be compared to personal computers. The programming in computers, as suggested, has no bearing with the EVMs. The computer would have inherent limitations having connections through the Internet and by their very design, they may allow the alteration of the programme but the EVMs are independent units and the programme in EVM is entirely a different system," the Madras High Court had observed while quashing a plea that demo done on prototype EVM can’t prove the charge.
"This invention is undoubtedly a great achievement in electronic and the computer technology and a national pride," the Karnataka High Court had said.
The observations in these judgments also deserve some consideration by the AAP. In 2002, the Madras High Court had held that hacking a prototype of the EVM cannot be the basis to conclude that actual EVMs can also be rigged. This, in fact, was the court’s observation in dismissing the petition.
But then, one cannot help but feel Kejriwal’s anguish. Faced with successive losses, the CM is now faced with challenges from within. The media, as he would go on to say, is out baying for his blood and there is immense pressure on the AAP supremo to respond to charges of graft on him and his other cabinet colleagues.
Kejriwal has so far maintained silence on the graft charges and appears to have resorted to this new tactic to divert the attention from the issue.
The EVM which was used by Saurabh today was not a machine that is used in polling by the ECI. The machine, the lawmaker himself said was ‘similar’ to the real one.
Perhaps the best response to the AAP’s drama in the Assembly came from his former aide Mishra. This is what he tweeted:
Ye kal bolenge janata ko tumhari ungli mein hi gadbad hai, galat button daba deti hai: Kapil Mishra on AAP's EVM tampering allegations pic.twitter.com/xo1ZzOFtVt— ANI (@ANI) May 9, 2017