It has become a fad and fun with our leaders and political parties to hurl irresponsible charges against anybody. This time they have targetted an institution of the Constitution, the Election Commission. They should either prove their charge or face the music for their irresponsible behaviour. Politicians cannot be allowed to humiliate and defame an institution of the Constitution.
With counting of votes for Parliament and state assemblies of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha has been done, some political parties like the Congress, TMC, TDP, DMK, NCP, BSP, SP and some other splinter groups have joined hands to once again raise doubts about the functioning of EVMs. They have knocked the doors of the Supreme Court and Election Commission with no success.
The opposition parties seem to be trying to pre-empt their poor performance in the election results putting the blame squarely on the EVMs in case the results, more or less, keep pace with the exit polls.
Surprisingly, Congress in 2017 accepted the mandate in Punjab and Bihar because it had been returned to power and gained in Bihar, through the medium of these very EVMs. AAP won 20 seats in Punjab when it also did not find anything wrong in EVMs there.
In 2018 elections to State assemblies of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan the Congress gained power through the same EVMs. No fault there, except the initial doubts when initially in MP BJP was seen a bit ahead of Congress. Their leaders initially did raise doubts about the efficacy of EVMs but their voice went silent as Congress scored gains.
It looks these political parties have very high standards of political ethics. The EVMs honestly interpret the people’s will only if they won. Otherwise, the victory is the result of manipulation and hacking of the EVMs by ruling party. Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati, Mamta Bannerjee, Arvind Kejriwal, Chanderbabu Naidu, and others are products of these very EVMs when they were made chief ministers. When they fail to get the mandate of the people, the grapes are sour and EVMs do not go by the will of the people.
Who can play mischief with the EVMs —either the ruling party or the Election Commission? Did the NDA manipulate its own defeat through EVMs in 2004 and UPA-2 in 2014 elections to Parliament? NDA lost power in many States when it was in power — all by itself?
Before putting the blame on EVMs, the Congress should have first refused to accept itself having been voted into power in Punjab, TDP in Andhra Pradesh, SP in UP and earlier BSP in UP.
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 these.
Intriguingly, it is only the political parties which lost who 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 the electorate which should have raised the banner of revolt if the results given out by EVMs were opposite to the way they had exercised their right to franchise. Silence of the electorate is a vociferous stamp on the outcome of the mandate of the people as interpreted by EVMs.
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 an NDA Government had taken over in March 1998, the decision was obviously mandated by the UF 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 the outcome of ‘manipulated’ EVMs in Congress 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 their 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?
Last year, to set at rest the questions raised and controversy generated once for all, the Election Commission gave all the parties and individuals an open time for about a week when they could show to the EC how the EVMs could be hacked. But none turned up, not even those who are now vociferous about the possibility of these being hacked. How can they raise the hackles now?
By Amba Charan Vashisth