The Election Commission (EC) should defer the Delhi civic polls by a month or two if it cannot equip all electronic voting machines (EVM) with paper trails, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Friday.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief also told reporters that the poll panel was using “redundant” EVMs in the Delhi Municipal elections that could be hacked “even by a child”.
“I am an engineer from IIT, I can tell you 10 ways to tamper with EVMs,” he told news channel NDTV in a separate interview.
Hours later, Kejriwal and other senior leaders met Delhi state election commission chief SK Srivastava and requested him to get the polls deferred to procure EVMs enabled with voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT).
“He (SEC) said he will write to the chief election commissioner. But there is one week left for the polls. So there’s no possibility of replacing the machines or bring VVPAT machines. So I told him to postpone it by 1-2 months by writing to the CEC,” Kejriwal said but added that his request was turned down citing a possible violation of norms.
The April 23 civic polls are being billed as a referendum on the AAP government’s work in the city. The young party is looking to wrest control of the three municipal corporations – north, east and south – from the BJP but is expected to face a tough fight. On Thursday, the AAP suffered a shock defeat in Rajouri Garden, losing even its security deposit in the west Delhi assembly bypoll where the BJP cruised to a victory.
Kejriwal has been at the forefront of a growing chorus of opposition leaders who have alleged that EVMs are tampered to hand elections to the BJP, especially after the saffron party’s massive victory in Uttar Pradesh last month. The Delhi CM says a third of his party’s votes in Punjab was switched to the BJP-Akali Dal combine that led to the AAP’s unexpectedly poor performance.
The election commission has dismissed all charges, even challenging parties to hack EVMs. After his meeting with Kejriwal, Srivastava said the generation-1 EVMs brought in for the municipal polls were “foolproof”.
“The process is fairly randomised and so the programme used in these machines cannot be manipulated to benefit any one candidate or party. Also, these machines are not networked either by wire or wirelessly to any other machine or system. So, there is no possibility of its data corruption,” Srivastava told HT.
Srivastava said the state poll panel would use machines provided by the EC. “We will be inviting the candidates to see and check the machines during the mock trials.”
But this is unlikely to impress the AAP, which continued to insist that under the DMC (Delhi Municipal Corporation) Act, the Centre could extend the tenure of civic bodies by one year.
Kejriwal also demanded the AAP be allowed to get the machines “technically verified by experts” during mock trials.
“When an independent candidate in Pune, who got zero votes, is asking where his vote has gone, why shouldn’t we question EVM? We cannot shut our eyes,” he told NDTV.
But he played down the humiliating defeat in Rajouri Garden and blamed the BJP of trying to break the AAP.
“BJP’s sole aim is to defeat AAP. We break five corruption nexus in the city-power bills, tanker mafia, school fees and corruption in health facilities and providing medicines. Had I taken money, they wouldn’t have targeted us,” Kejriwal said.