A month after Congress suffered a humiliating defeat in the Himachal Pradesh assembly elections, Pradesh Congress committee (PCC) chief Sukhwinder Sukhu on Monday raised questions on the fairness of the EVMs used in the polls and suspected selective tempering of the machines to influence the results.
In a memorandum submitted to the Chief Election Commissioner, Congress demanded that no EVMs should be used in the next Lok Sabha polls in Himachal Pradesh. Previously, former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh had also alleged EVM tampering at some of the polling booths to ensure that the Congress didn’t return to power. The Congress won only 21 seats in the assembly polls, while the BJP returned to power with 44 seats in the 68-member House.
Monday’s development came after a meeting of the PCC executive, which was convened by Sukhu. The Congress leaders unanimously came to the decision that the Himachal Pradesh polls were highly influenced by EVM tampering. “There could be other factors also that contributed to the party’s defeat in the elections. But reports about EVM tampering has also caused concern. Some of the district presidents and even candidates have submitted evidences raising doubts on the EVMs,” said Sukhu.
The Congress leaders claimed there was a big threat to India’s democracy from the faulty EVMs being used in the elections. On Monday, a party delegation, including some of the candidates who had lost in the recent elections, asked Chief Electoral Office (CEO) Vikas Sood to revert back to the old system of using ballot papers.
Sukhu alleged that some “selfish elements” did not hesitate in tampering with the EVMs. In the memorandum, Congress quoted some of the examples from countries like Europe, North America, Netherlands, Ireland, France, Ukraine, Germany, where the use of EVMs have been stopped because of doubts on transparency of elections.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who was in Shimla a few weeks ago, had claimed that lack of connect with the masses and arrogance of power was one of the main factors for the party’s defeat. The sudden change of stance in the Congress has surprised many.
In the meeting, the Congress leaders also discussed strategies to step-up pressure on the BJP after its sitting MP Virender Kashyap was chargesheeted in connection with an alleged corruption case. The party has decided to give 100 days to the new BJP government to get its house in order following which it would draw up its next strategy.