Oppn takes a swipe at Centre after Musk questions EVM reliability, BJP hits back | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Oppn takes a swipe at Centre after Musk questions EVM reliability, BJP hits back

By, New Delhi
Jun 17, 2024 04:29 PM IST

The row, over what was previously known as Twitter, unfolded after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar reacted to a tweet by Musk, about the unreliability of EVMs in response to reports of irregularities in Puerto Rico.

Electronic voting machines (EVMs) were in the middle of a fresh social media controversy on Sunday with leaders not just from both sides of the political spectrum in India chiming in but also Tesla founder and X chief executive Elon Musk too wading into the matter.

The row, over what was previously known as Twitter, unfolded after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar reacted to a tweet by Musk, about the unreliability of EVMs in response to reports of irregularities in Puerto Rico. (HT PHOTO)
The row, over what was previously known as Twitter, unfolded after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar reacted to a tweet by Musk, about the unreliability of EVMs in response to reports of irregularities in Puerto Rico. (HT PHOTO)

The row, over what was previously known as Twitter, unfolded after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar reacted to a tweet by Musk, about the unreliability of EVMs in response to reports of irregularities in Puerto Rico.

“We should eliminate electronic voting machines. The risk of being hacked by humans or AI, while small, is still too high,” Musk said.

Chandrasekhar responded: “Indian EVMs are custom designed, secure, and isolated from any network or media - no connectivity, no Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Internet. There is no way in.” The BJP leader also invited Musk for a tutorial on building a secure electronic voting machine for free and fair elections, adding, “Electronic voting machines can be architected and built right as India has done. We would be happy to run a tutorial, Elon.”

To this, Musk posted a short response, writing: “Anything can be hacked”.

Chandrasekhar made another post, writing “technically ur right - anything is possible… but that’s a different type of a conversation from EVMs being secure and reliable vis a vis paper voting. And we can agree to disagree”.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi weighed in on the debate, expressing concerns about the transparency of EVMs. “EVMs in India are a ‘black box,’ and nobody is allowed to scrutinise them. Serious concerns are being raised about transparency in our electoral process. Democracy ends up becoming a sham and prone to fraud when institutions lack accountability,” Gandhi said.

Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav also responded, referencing Musk’s post and questioning the insistence on using EVMs despite global suspicions of tampering. “Technology is meant to solve problems; if it becomes the cause of difficulties, its use should be discontinued. Today, when there are suspicions of tampering with EVMs in elections worldwide and renowned technology experts are openly writing about the dangers of manipulation in EVMs, then what is the reason behind the insistence on using EVMs? The BJP should clarify this matter. We reiterate our demand to conduct all upcoming elections using ballot papers,” Yadav wrote.

Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia took a dig at Gandhi, stating, “Chat bhi meri, pat bhi meri (having things both ways), this will not work every time. If you win, EVM is a hero, and if you lose, EVM. People of the country are now aware of this policy of the Congress party, that’s why they have made BJP government for the third time with full majority.”

A poll official dismissed a news report that Gandhi had used to reference EVMs claiming they are a ‘black box’. The report alleged that a relative of the winning Shiv Sena candidate in Mumbai had a phone that “unlocked” an EVM. Vandana Suryavanshi, the returning officer for the Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency, clarified that EVMs are standalone systems that do not require an OTP to unlock them.

“There is no OTP (one-time password) on mobile for unlocking EVM as it is non-programmable and it has no wireless communication capabilities,” Suryavanshi stated. “It is a complete lie being spread by a newspaper, which is being used by some leaders to create a false narrative.”

She mentioned that a notice has been issued to Mid-Day newspaper under sections 499 and 505 of the Indian Penal Code for defamation and spreading false news.

Mangesh Pandilkar, the brother-in-law of winning Shiv Sena candidate Ravindra Waikar, was booked on Wednesday for allegedly using a mobile phone at a counting centre on June 4, the day of the general election results announcement. A police official said the mobile phone has been sent to forensics to examine call records and verify if it was used for other purposes, according to the Mid-Day report.

While there was nothing to suggest evidence of a technical tampering, there appeared to be procedural lapses. A polling official from Jogeshwari assembly constituency Dinesh Gurav, whose mobile phone was found in the possession of “an unauthorised individual on counting day”, was also booked, police officials said.

The top court had on April 26 dismissed a bunch of petitions demanding 100% cross-verification of votes cast on EVMs with paper trail systems, stating that the poll process, that was being carried out at the time, could not be halted over “mere speculation or apprehensions”.

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