Politicians’ EVM Mania

Politicians’ EVM Mania

To be reckless in use of tongue is a virtue granted by the Constitution of India to its citizens. Yet, at the same time, it does not allow them, more so to its politicians — many of them elected representatives of the people, some even holding constitutional posts — the right to be irresponsible and unaccountable.  They do have the right to make allegations but also the simultaneous duty to prove them.

This is true of the controversy raised by the likes of Delhi CM and Aam Aadmi Party supremo Arvind Kejriwal, BSP  supremo Mayawati and the likes about the alleged manipulation of EVMs in the state assembly elections to five states results of which were out in March 2017.  They have not come out with a single instance with solid proof to substantiate their charge. They seem to be thriving at generalities. Surprisingly, the SP CM Akhilash Yadav, who lost power in the recent elections, has refused to put the blame squarely on EVMs.

Intriguingly, it is only the political parties that lost are raising the din.The common voter who determined the fate of the parties and candidates has so far not joined the duet with defeated leaders. In fact, it is  he who should have raised the banner of revolt if the results given out by EVMs were opposite to the way he exercised his right to franchise.  Silence of the electorate is a vociferous stamp on the outcome of the mandate of the people as interpreted by EVMs.

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EVMs were introduced, for the first time, in November 1998 by the Election Commission (EC) initially in elections to 16 assembly constituencies in five states. Although a National Democraric Alliance government had taken over in March 1998, the decision was obviously mandated by the United Front government which was in power from 1996 to 1998 with the outside support of Congress. Incidentally, most of the political parties which are now finding fault with EVMs were proxy to this decision. Before raising a voice against EVMs, it is the Congress and others who should have first tendered an unqualified apology for having approved this ‘monstrous’ step by the EC then.

Curiously, be it the Congress, BSP, left parties, AAP and others, they have raised the bogey of ‘manipulation’ of EVMs only when they lost elections and not when they won. Congress was voted into power on the strength of these very EVMs in 2004 and 2009 at the Centre and in various States. Were these results outcome of ‘manipulated’ EVMs in Congress favour?

Mayawati’s BSP was voted into power in UP in 2007. AAP first got a fractured mandate in 2013 and later in 2015 was voted into power in Delhi winning 67 of 70 seats using these very EVMs. Mahagathbandhan of JD (U)-RJD-Congress won November 2015 elections in Bihar. Neither Mayawati nor Kejriwal  nor Congress and RJD raised an iota of doubt on these EVMs then. This only because the verdict was in their favour?

Elections to Parliament and State assemblies under the Constitution are held under the “control and superintendence” of the Election Commission through State Election Commission. Elections in UP were held when Samajwadi Party was in power. In Uttarakhand and Manipur Congress was in power. In Punjab Akali Dal-BJP had government when it was voted out of power and Congress won. How did ‘manipulation’ happen?

And if it was so, how did Congress proudly accept the verdict which voted it in power in Punjab with ‘manipulated’ EVMs?

If AAP is honest in its charge, it should have refused to accept the election of 20 of its candidates as a result of the ‘manipulated’ EVMs and made its winners resign in protest.

Why does the Congress feel elated at winning one seat in MP, two seats in Karnataka, and surge in its vote share in Rajouri Garden seat in Delhi in recent by-elections results of which were also given out by these very ‘faulty’ EVMs? Interestingly, this time has not faulted EVMs for Rajouri Garden defeat but to the resentment of people for its sitting MLA having deserted them and fought election in Punjab.

In an interview with an English news channel, Delhi CM Kejriwal on April 14 claimed that he did not “know how to hamper an EVM” but he knew “there are ten ways to do it”.

Now that the EC has thrown an open challenge to every individual and political party “to hack it (EVM)”, our leaders and political parties need to accept the challenge and prove what they alleged. In the alternative, they should be tried under section 182 of the Indian Penal Code  for giving “to any public servant (in this case, the Election Commission) any information which he knows or believes to be false”. They should not be allowed to get away with such irresponsible behavior so easily allowing them to make a mockery of Indian democracy.  The politics of hypocrisy needs to be curbed with a heavy hand. It will usher in a politics of responsibility and accountability.

By Amba Charan Vashishth

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