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Amid EVM hacking row, Mayawati seeks 2019 polls through ballot paper

The demand has come amid strong rebuttal by the election commission of the EVM hacking claim by US-based cyber expert Syed Shuja.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2019 15:49 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Mayawati’s demand has come amid strong rebuttal by the election commission of the EVM hacking claim by US-based cyber expert Syed Shuja.(Subhankar Chakraborty/ HT Photo)

After a cyber expert claimed in London that the 2014 Lok Sabha elections were rigged by hacking the electronic voting machines (EVMs), clamour has been rising in the country with many Opposition leaders asking the Election Commission of India (ECI) to revert to the system of ballot paper for recording votes of the electorates in polls.

The demand has come amid strong rebuttal by the election commission of the EVM hacking claim by US-based cyber expert Syed Shuja.

BSP chief Mayawati on Tuesday demanded that the election commission should conduct 2019 Lok Sabha polls using ballot paper as was the case before the EVMs were introduced during 1990s. “Keeping the larger interest of democracy in view, it is essential to look into the EVM matter so that it gets resolved soon. It’s possible to validate ballot paper but it’s not the case with the EVM. We demand EC to hold 2019 general election using ballot paper, taking this into cognizance,” Mayawati was quoted as saying by ANI.

The view was supported by Mayawati’s new ally Akhilesh Yadav, the Samajwadi Party (SP) president. Yadav said was quoted by ANI as saying, “If someone has raised a question then it must be thought that what is the reason that a developed country like Japan is not using EVMs. It is not a question of a political party, it’s a question of trust in democracy.”

The election commission and the government should make a decision, Yadav said.

Another Opposition leader N Chandrababu Naidu, the Andhra Pradesh chief minister earlier took to Twitter to term EVM as a “big threat to democracy”. Naidu said, “EVM is turning out to be a big threat to democracy. It is worrying to know the claims made on the possibility of tampering EVMs. EC must seek opinion of all political parties and revert to the paper ballot system immediately.”

On the other hand, the government has rubbished the allegations of EVM hacking with Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad blaming the Congress party for the controversy. He launched an attack on the Congress questioning the presence of senior party leader and former Union law minister Kapil Sibal at the EVM Hackathon event organised in London on Monday.

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Prasad said, “What was Mr Kapil Sibal doing there? In what capacity was he present there? I believe he was monitoring the situation on behalf of Congress party. Is the Congress sponsored event designed to insult the popular mandate of 2014?”

Meanwhile, the Congress distanced itself from the London event. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi saying that Sibal did not represent the party and was invited to the event by a journalist.

The Congress, however, maintained that serious questions were asked at the press conference that needed to be answered by the election commission. “The charges made are very serious...They certainly need investigation. These should be looked into with an open mind by the Election Commission,” Singhvi was quoted as saying by PTI.

Earlier in December last year, even after big assembly election victories in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Congress president Rahul Gandhi had said that the concerns over use of EVM in elections needed to be addressed. He said, “As far as the EVMs are concerned, there are issues with them, universally. If the people in the country are uncomfortable with the EVM, then it’s a big issue which needs to be addressed.”

First Published: Jan 22, 2019 14:52 IST