Shuja’s Claims About EVMs Sound Like Science Fiction: Kapil Sibal
Ravi Shankar Prasad asked if the event was sponsored by the Congress to “defame the popular mandate” of India.
Ravi Shankar Prasad asked if the event was sponsored by the Congress to “defame the popular mandate” of India.(Photo: Altered by The Quint)

Shuja’s Claims About EVMs Sound Like Science Fiction: Kapil Sibal

Senior Congress leader and former Union minister Kapil Sibal, on Tuesday, 22 January, said he attended the London EVM hackathon event in “personal capacity”, in response to the BJP’s allegation that he was there on behalf of his party.

Syed Shuja, a US-based cyber ‘expert’ who claimed he was a part of the team at Electronic Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL) that designed and developed EVMs, alleged that the 2014 general elections in India were rigged. He also claimed that senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde was murdered because he knew about the tampering.

While Sibal said that it sounded like “science fiction” to him, he also called for an investigation into Shuja’s claims.

Sibal claimed that the event was not restricted to one party.

“Indian Journalists Association London President Ashish Ray told me he has sent invitations to all political parties, including the BJP, and also Election Commission.”
Kapil Sibal, Congress Leader

Sibal claimed that the BJP ministers were making irresponsible statements.

‘Why Was Kapil Sibal Present?’ BJP Slams Congress

Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had earlier launched an attack on the Congress, alleging that the event, on Monday, was sponsored by the party. He also raised questions about Sibal’s presence at the event.

Addressing the media, Prasad asked if the event was sponsored by the Congress to “defame the popular mandate” of India.

“In what capacity was Kapil Sibal present at the EVM hackathon event? He was there to monitor the press conference on behalf of Congress. Is the Congress-sponsored event designed to defame the popular mandate of India?”
Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister

In a press conference in London on Monday, 21 January, a self-proclaimed Indian cyber expert claimed that electronic voting machines (EVMs) can be hacked. He alleged here that the 2014 parliamentary election was "rigged", and demanded an investigation into the allegations.

The man, identified as Syed Shuja, said he fled India in 2014 because he felt threatened in the country after the killing of some of his team members.

Prasad, on Tuesday, alleged that the event was organised by those who are “close” to the Congress party. He also claimed that Indian Journalists Association London President Ashish Ray, who was one of the organisers of the hackathon event, was known for “praising” Rahul Gandhi.

“Ashish Ray is a contributor in National Herald. He praises Rahul Gandhi a lot in his column in National Herald.”
Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union minister
“In 2014, it was the Congress-led UPA which was in power, not us. Where is the logic in accusing us of hacking EVM when we were not in power.”
Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union minister

Congress Distances Itself from From London Event on EVM Hacking

The Congress, on the other hand, distanced itself from the London press conference, and demanded an investigation into the allegations.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said party leader Kapil Sibal was invited by a journalist and he did not represent the Congress party at the press conference, held under the aegis of the Indian Journalists’ Association (Europe).

On the BJP's charge about the involvement of the Congress in organising the event as it was attended by Sibal, Singhvi said, "Obviously, the Congress party had nothing to do with organising the press conference and does not know the principal actors and has no role to play."

He said Sibal has himself clarified that a journalist had invited him and he went, "but he was certainly not claiming to be representing the Congress party."

“But, I think this approach of shooting the messenger without looking at the message must change. And that is the sum and substance,” he told reporters.

He said the Congress and other parties want that there should be a system in place to check 50 percent of voter verifiable paper audit trails (VVPAT) to reassure the country on the infallibility of electronic voting machines.

“The charges made are very serious. I cannot vouch for them or deny them, as they have not been investigated. But they certainly need investigation. These should be looked into with an open mind by the Election Commission,” he told reporters.

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