Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal claimed on Wednesday that rigged voting machines transferred his party’s votes to the SAD-BJP combine in Punjab while BSP chief Mayawati said she would seek court help for a probe into “tampering” in Uttar Pradesh.
Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party finished a distant second in Punjab with 20 seats, as the Congress stormed to power with 77 in the 117-member assembly. Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party was decimated in Uttar Pradesh, getting just 19 seats in the 403-strong assembly.
While rivals, barring the Congress, have been dismissive of their claims, the Election Commission has said EVMs can’t be tampered with.
“He (Kejriwal) has lost his mental balance so he is saying things like this. He did not say anything when AAP won 67 seats in Delhi,” Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said in Delhi.
Her party, Shiromani Akali Dal, which is led by husband Sukhbir and has an alliance with the BJP, was voted out of Punjab after 10 years and finished third behind the AAP but with a higher voter share.
“Many said that there is anger against Akalis and AAP is sweeping the polls. Still, AAP got 25% votes and SAD got 31%. How is that possible?” Kejriwal said.
He alleged that around 20-25% of his party’s votes may have been “transferred” to the SAD-BJP because EVMs were tinkered with.
The AAP was counting on a Delhi-like poll debut in Punjab to go national but poll results fell way short of its expectations.
The people of Punjab had thrown out the AAP and Kejriwal “should do vipassana”, the minister said, a reference to a meditation technique that the Dekhi CM practices.
“Developed countries have given up EVMs. Should we not rethink?”
- Arvind Kejriwal
While he took responsibility for the poor performance, Kejriwal demanded that the Election Commission count votes of verifiable paper trail-enabled EVMs to “restore credibility of the EVMs”.
The poll panel had paper-trail EVMs in some polling booths. The paper is a printout that allows a voter to see if the vote has gone to the candidate it was intended for.
“Developed countries have given up EVMs. Should we not rethink? Even the BJP including (LK) Advaniji had said EVMs can be tampered with,” said Kejriwal, who has asked for ballot papers to be used in the next month’s Delhi civic elections.
In Lucknow, Mayawati repeated similar charges. The BJP’s victory smacked of “fraud”, she said, adding her party would observe 11th of every months as a black day against the “murder of democracy” by the saffron party.
The results for the five state elections were declared on March 11 and the BJP got 312 seats.
Within hours of declaration of results, Mayawati alleged widespread tampering and wrote to the EC, demanding a fresh election.
The poll panel wrote back that EVMs couldn’t be tampered with and there was no merit to her claims.
Rejecting the reply, Mayawati told mediapersons on Wednesday, “The BSP will file a petition in the court on this issue (probe into tampering)... EVMs were tampered with to transfer the BSP votes to BJP.”
The BJP hit back and asked the former UP chief minister to gracefully accept the people’s mandate.
“When you win, EVMs are right. When you lose, EVMs are wrong. This shows that there are some defects in you (Mayawati),” Union minister M Venkaiah said.
The Election Commission should look into the allegations made by Mayawati and Kejriwal, the Congress said. “If some people have raised questions about the tampering of EVMs, the Election Commission should address those and launch an inquiry,” party spokesperson Sushmita Dev said.
Introduced in 1982, EVMs fast-tracked India’s electoral process. Counting that used to take days is now a matter of hours.
All states had switched to EVMs by 2000. The 2004 poll was the first general election in which EVMs, manufactured by government-owned Bharat Heavy Electricals and Electronic Corporation of India, were used.
(With agency inputs)