The government hit back at the Opposition Thursday over its allegations of tampering of EVMs, describing it as “pain of defeat” and khisiani billi khamba noche. The entire Opposition staged a walkout. Replying to a short duration debate on electoral reforms, during which a number of Opposition MPs called for introducing voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asked the Congress to remember that even Indira Gandhi had accepted her defeat in 1974 without making any such allegation.
“A very marathon discussion on electoral reforms and EVM happened yesterday. This time the debate was less on electoral reforms and more on the defeat in UP… The speeches of the leaders had analysis, sentiments and pain. The pain of defeat was visible (parajay ka dad dikhai pad raha tha),” Prasad said. If EVMs were indeed manipulated, he asked how the BJP could have lost in Bihar and Delhi earlier. “If you win the EVM is fine, if you lose then the EVM is bad. We are hearing a new thing now,” he said. He reminded Ram Gopal Yadav of the SP’s massive victory in 2012, and asked Satish Chandra Mishra if EVMs were fine when the BSP won in 2007.
“Actually it is not the EVM that makes you win or lose, but the people. People are making us victorious everywhere. You should accept this change,” he said amid repeated interruptions from the treasury benches.
To Opposition arguments about EVMs being used in India but not in many developed countries, he asked the Congress if it will apply the same logic to Aadhaar, which it had introduced and the NDA is continuing. EVMs are used in France, Belgium, Mongolia, Bhutan and elsewhere, he added.
Opposition leaders had argued that BJP leaders L K Advani, Subramanian Swamy and G V L Narsimha Rao had raised questions over EVMs. They referred to Rao’s 2009 book Democracy at Risk. Prasad said that Rao had said he written the book as a “researcher” and that it was “not the authentic view of the BJP”.
Opposition members asked why the government was not allocating funds for machines with a paper trail despite a dozen letters from the Election Commission. The minister promised all support to the endeavour of maximising the use of such machines but added logistical issues are involved: in 2015, 67,000 machines were ordered but till now only 33,000 have arrived.
BSP’s Mishra said, “If 10,000 machines come in a year, then 160 years will be required to get 16 lakh VVPAT machines… In that case voting should take place through ballot papers.”
With BSP chief Mayawati having raised questions over EVMs, Prasad said, “Had they convinced the people, they would have not lost the elections so badly.” Mishra hit back that had the elections been conducted properly, the BSP would have crossed 300 and BJP would have got 19. Meghraj Jain of the BJP said, “If you have been defeated, accept the defeat.”
As the Opposition walked out in protest, MoS (Parliamentary Affairs) Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, “They are walking away as people have walked away from them. It happens when there is a bankruptcy of arguments. It is khisiani billi khamba noche.”