Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Misuse of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) - a hot potato in India

The debate on misuse of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) has sought to come back yet again into public domain with the stage set for the crucial
Bihar elections. It is truly like a hot potato.
Every one wants to talk about it, but some are cautious not to display their inclination on the issue, others have made up their minds already.
It's not without good reason that the politicians are called strange bed fellows. They are expert in their own way not only in sleeping with the enemies but also change their stand on any issue under the sky, given the context what's their immediate benefits are. A few years ago, the then Punjab chief minister and dynamic Congress leader in the northern region, Capt. Amarinder Singh, had staged a demonstration in the office of a reputed editor of a Chandigarh daily trying to argue that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) could be misused.
Not long ago, EVMs were billed as an instrument of panacea in organizing elections and which could deal with mal practices of Indian electoral system. However, the table has seemingly taken a gory turn since 2004.
At the national level Congress has bounced back to power and five years since then with a renewed and resurgent mandate in May 2009.
So the general refrain of the political class being, how can Congress now complain of the EVMs.
Worse, the BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has virtually sanctified the theory by suggesting that EVMs are now the “Elections Voting Machines” (sic) for the Congress.
Now, when was the last time, we heard that misuse of EVMs is only a rhetoric of losers.
After all, post-May 2009 parliamentary elections, BJP, L K Advani, Ram Vilas Paswan -- et all come in that club.
In recent times many leaders have spoken about EVM misuse.
BJP’s arch rivals CPI (M), LJP and RJD have supported the contention.
Even a lady at the winning side, Mamata Banerjee has said, “I have been saying that EVMs are being manipulated for years. Now (CPM) are saying the same thing. I have said that EVMs should be replaced with ballot paper. However, we will accept what the Election Commission directs”.

Even during the just concluded monsoon session of parliament, the RJD leader Mr Lalu Prasad, who is leading an aggressive electoral campaign for poll-bound Bihar, and his friend Mulayam Singh Yadav made a strong demand
for abolition of electronic voting machine (EVMs) in the country saying
the earlier manual system was "more genuine".
"The use of EVM has raised many questions about misuse of technology
to infuence the poll results," Mr Prasad said in Lok Sabha on August 31 while speaking during a debate on a new legislation to allow participaton of overseas Indians into the voting system.
"On this even BJP is with us. We all had submitted representation on
this to the election commission," said the former Bihar chief minister,
whose party had suffered a stunning defeat during the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. "The unlettered voters often are vulnerable to be misguided on EVM. Many atimes it seems people vote for my party but the tally is shown for cycle (Mulayam Singh's SP symbol)," he said throwing the house into peals of laughter.
Besides Mulayam Singh Yadav even BSP members like Gorakh Nath Pandey also supported.
However, replying to the members, the Law Minister Mr M Veerappa Moily
said the Indian EVMs are foolproof. "It has been testified by a group
of experts headed by a former IIT director'.
The minister spoke on the expected line and said the issue of abuse of EVMs and irregularities with them has been raised a number of times in the Parliament but so far "no one has able to to prove the EVM wrong convincingly".
In the past also, the Election Commission had denied rather uthoritatively that EVMs in India (ECI-EVMs) are stand alone objects and cannot be misused.
But this is too simplistic part of the story.
We need to take a closer view on the vital question; is it right to presume that not having any proof for a crime implies that the crime was never committed.
The new Chief Election Commission S Y Quraishi has to ensure that the polls are not merely conducted fairly but like the judiciary they ought to be seen being conducted above board.

To be continued .....

1 comment:

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