MUMBAI: In a virulent attack on the Election Commission (EC) over complaints of malfunctioning of EVMs and VVPAT machines in bypolls, the Shiv Sena today dubbed the poll panel, democracy and elections as "mistress" of those in power.
Unsparing in its criticism of ally BJP, the Sena alleged that the ruling party, which, it said, has an "autocratic mindset", has corrupted the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to serve its own purpose.
It warned that people's loss of faith in the election process was "dangerous" for democracy.
"Our country can no longer be called the largest democracy in the world. EVMs have spoilt the democracy. Those in power at present have made democracy their mistress with their autocratic mindset," an editorial in Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana' said.
"The BJP has corrupted EVMs, and made them into a machinery that can be used for its own purpose. Elections and the Election Commission have become the mistress," it alleged.
Referring to complaints of technical snags in EVMs and VVPAT machines in Maharashtra's Bhandara-Gondia and Palghar Lok Sabha bypolls, it said while each vote counts and can be a deciding factor, thousands of people got "bored" waiting in queues and returned without voting after the machines malfunctioned.
"The present Election Commission and its machinery have become like slaves of the government. Hence, they are not ready to take complaints of distribution of alcohol and money, the autocracy of government and threatening statements," it charged.
The publication also mocked EC for blaming the hot weather for malfunctioning of EVMs.
"The temperature keeps fluctuating. However, we never heard of the prime minister's flight engines having stopped working due to hot weather or computers of the BJP's social media cell malfunctioning due to hostile weather," it quipped and asked "why did EVMs stop functioning then?"
Since the last several years, EVMs were procured from (PSU) BHEL or from the Election Commission of India. This time, the machines were procured from a private company in Surat, the Sena pointed out, adding that this raises doubts.
"People not trusting the election process is dangerous for democracy," it opined.
There is a discontent among people against the BJP, yet the party is winning elections and instances of EVMs malfunctioning only gives an impetus to the belief that there is a "setting" of EVMs that ensures the party wins, the Marathi daily alleged.
"There was a time when the BJP opposed these machines. Now, the whole country is opposing it, the BJP is supporting it. The whole world has rejected EVMs, then why is the government supporting it?" it sought to know.
The EC yesterday announced re-poll in 73 polling stations in Uttar Pradesh's Kairana, 49 polling stations in Maharashtra's Bhandara-Gondia and one polling station in Nagaland, after the voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines developed snags during the bypolls held on Monday.
No re-polling was ordered in the Palghar (ST) Lok Sabha constituency.