The BJP on Tuesday called the allegations that electronic voting machines (EVMs) were tampered in 2014 General Election a “political stunt” and “Congress-sponsored conspiracy” to “defame” India, and said the Congress has already started looking for “alibi” ahead of its “certain defeat” in Lok Sabha polls.
This came on a day BSP chief Mayawati, SP leader Akhilesh Yadav and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababdu Naidu sought the use of ballot paper system in the coming elections and said that hackers had “proved” that EVMs can be tampered.
On Monday, a US-based self-proclaimed cyber expert from India, Syed Shuja, had claimed that 2014 Lok Sabha polls were “rigged” and that EVMs can be hacked.
Reacting to BJP’s charge, Congress leader Anand Sharma reiterated that the party had nothing to do with the London event, and said the Election Commission should check at least 50 per cent of voter verifiable paper audit trails (VVPAT) to assuage apprehensions of opposition parties on EVMs. “It is important that elections are not only free and fair but voters must also believe it is free and fair,” he said.
Union minister and senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Indian Journalists’ Association, which had organised Monday’s event in London, is headed by Ashis Ray who, the minister claimed, “campaigns” for the Congress on social media, and has often criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Ray, Prasad said, had also organised Rahul Gandhi’s public event in London.
Prasad said he had never heard of Shuja, even though as Union IT minister he keeps in touch with experts and developments in the field.
Questioning Congress leader Kapil Sibal’s presence at Shuja’s conference, Prasad said, “In what capacity was he present? My charge is that he was there to monitor the event for the Congress. It was a Congress-sponsored conspiracy designed to defame Indian democracy and its Election Commission.”
In London, Sibal called Prasad’s remarks an “irresponsible statement, not befitting the office he holds”.
“There should be an inquiry in the charges he (Shuja) has made. The Supreme Court and law says there should be an FIR. It is your (government’s) responsibility – if someone is making allegations it is important to ascertain whether the charges are right or not. If the charges are wrong, take action against him. If they are right, then it is a very serious thing,” PTI quoted Sibal saying.
In Lucknow, Akhilesh Yadav said people have lost faith in EVMs, while Mayawati demanded ballot papers for the Lok Sabha polls. In a statement, the BSP chief said, “The latest revelations have made doubts on EVMs more serious. It is better that until doubts of the public and opposition parties about EVMs are not cleared, future elections, especially the Lok Sabha polls, be conducted using ballot papers, which can be verified at three levels, unlike EVMs.”
In Amaravati, Naidu also pitched for returning to the ballot paper system, claiming that hackers have “proved” that EVMs can be tampered.