Punjab has voted already, and the results are a month away, but the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is still on the warpath. The party has launched a statewide ‘AAP protects EVMs’ drive as part of which 15,000 volunteers of the party will keep a watch on strongrooms where the electronic voting machines (EVMs) have been kept till the counting day, March 11.
Party convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has been speaking and tweeting against the Election Commission for the past few days alleging that it is working against the AAP at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Showing little faith in the three-tier security in place outside the 117 strong rooms (one in each constituency), the party will have its workers on duty, day and night, to ensure that no strongroom is breached.
EC officials say that they have themselves invited every party to stand guard outside the strongrooms. The AAP has taken to the task seriously.
Every strongroom is basically a building a part of which is sealed completely, including its windows, and only a single entry point is left which is also sealed. Hundreds of EVM boxes are kept inside. The first security ring is of the paramilitary forces followed by a middle ring of Punjab armed policemen and the outermost cordon is of the Punjab police. Also, closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras cover the area from all angles.
The AAP has, however, shown little faith in the Punjab police as well whom Kejriwal has been attacking too through his tweets. “We are going to have a team of AAP volunteers outside every strongroom,” said AAP state convener Gurpreet Singh Waraich ‘Ghuggi’. Volunteers attached with Dev Mann, the AAP candidate from Nabha, have already pitched a tent outside the building of the strongroom.
On Twitter, AAP supporters are posting about the move. “AAP is changing the way polls are held in India. After the ‘AAP spy army’ stopping money and liquor distribution, now AAP protests EVMs,” reads a tweet. “People of Punjab have their future enclosed in theses EVMs that is why we are taking the responsibility of guarding them,” states another. “Knowing Cong-BJP desperation, AAP protests EVMs,” states yet another. “Badal/captain will not be able to tamper with the EVMs,” says another.
The other two main parties in the fray however, seem to have more faith in the system. “Only the losers go around blaming the Election Commission and the administration for why they lost. We have complete faith in the paramilitary forces guarding the EVMs,” said senior Congress leader and candidate from Baba Bakala, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa. “Those who have no faith in our country’s security agencies should shift to a country they feel safe in,” he added.
“AAP is paranoid, which is nothing new with them,” said SAD leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa. “They think they are fighting a world in which everyone is out to get them. And that, if they even blink for a second, they will be eaten up. We are already busy with the Delhi gurdwara elections. AAP can keep guarding our votes in those EVMs.”