Reassurance about credibility of election processes an absolute must

Rohit Chandavarkar
Wednesday, 30 May 2018

In an attack on the EC over complaints of malfunctioning of EVMs and VVPAT machines in bypolls, the Shiv Sena on Wednesday dubbed the poll panel, democracy and elections as ‘mistress’ of those in power. 

The manner in which almost all opposition parties in India are now raising objections or suspicion about the credibility and dependability of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) is surely alarming. In world’s largest democracy, India, the Election Commission (EC), an autonomous institution, now has to now be seen doing something to reassure these political parties.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been doing well in the recent elections in many parts of the country. But the opposition parties feel that in recent assembly polls in certain states, in many constituencies, the results have been surprising and unexpected. There was a case highlighted last year during the municipal elections in Mumbai where one candidate got zero votes. The candidate claimed that he was sure that he himself, his family members and some of his friends voted for him and he asked the question, how the EVM could show zero votes for him.

Shiv Sena, the ruling coalition partner of the BJP in Maharashtra and at the Centre, almost launched an attack against the EC through its mouthpiece Saamana on Wednesday.

In an attack on the EC over complaints of malfunctioning of EVMs and VVPAT machines in bypolls, the Shiv Sena on Wednesday dubbed the poll panel, democracy and elections as ‘mistress’ of those in power. 

The Sena alleged that its ally, the BJP which it said has an ‘autocratic mindset’, has (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 publication also mocked EC for blaming the hot weather for the failure of machines. “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,” 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, Sena mouthpiece alleged.

It is not just Shiv Sena but many other parties including Samajwadi Party, the left parties and the principal opposition party, the Congress too have raised doubts over EVM functioning. 

In latest by-polls, the EC had to order re-polling at 49 centres in Bhandara-Gondia constituency and similar number in other states where by-polls happened. NCP leader and former Union minister Praful Patel called a special press conference and made very serious allegations about the machines. 

All this has raised doubts in the minds of common people about the overall credibility of the process under these EVMs. Now, the EC has to take the initiatives to restore people’s faith in the polling systems.

FAULTY EVMS
There was a case highlighted last year during the municipal elections in Mumbai where one candidate got zero votes. The candidate claimed that he was sure that he himself, his family members and some of his friends voted for him and he asked the question, how the EVM could show zero votes for him. Shiv Sena, the ruling coalition partner of the BJP in Maharashtra and at the Centre, almost launched an attack against the EC through its mouthpiece Saamana.

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