Why Are AAP And Other Parties Shying Away From EC’s EVM Challenge?

Ahead of the Election Commission deadline of 5 pm on 26 May, Friday, no political party has come forward.

3 min read

Some of the loudest accusations of EVM tampering were made by the Aam Aadmi Party. (Photo: Rhythum Seth/<b>The Quint)</b>

After the Election Commission announced on 23 May that it was challenging parties to take part in an EVM challenge on 3 June, no party showed its willingness to register for the event on 3 June apart from Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The challenge is only for national and state parties which contested in the elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Punjab and Goa.

Aam Aadmi Party had raised serious allegations about the tampering of EVMs, even blaming their defeat on it, but the party seems to be disinterested in taking part in the contest.

The BSP had also levelled allegations of tampering with the EVMs after the Uttar Pradesh elections.

NCP expressed interest in participating in the EVM challenge. AAP and Congress raised some issue as per the existing framework of challenge but have not expressed their interest in participating. 
Sharad Pawar, NCP Leader

AAP also “demonstrated” in the Delhi legislative Assembly how EVMs can be “tampered” with. Later, several Opposition parties, except the AAP, had urged the EC to revert to paper ballot, saying the faith of the people in EVMs has eroded.

A demand of the AAP to tamper with the motherboard of the machine was rejected by the Commission. It said change in circuits would mean the EVM is no longer the one used by the Commission.

EC’s Method Inadequate: Ashutosh, AAP

When asked about its lack of response to EC’s challenge, AAP leader Ashutosh told The Quint:

The EC conditions do not instil any confidence. EC only allows a wireless method to try to tamper with it (EVM). However we maintain that anyone who wishes to tamper with the machine can do it in several ways after assessing the entire machine. EC’s method is very inadequate which explains why the party is not as enthusiastic as it should have been.
In the last few days, EVMs in many places have shown all votes in the BJP’s favour, this is also why many, under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi, approached the President and asked for a paper-based ballot system. EC is now backing out from the hackathon as well.

Party leader Arvind Kejriwal had earlier termed EC’s move to back out of the ‘hackathon’ as “sad”. Kejriwal had made the remarks despite Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi stating at an all-party meeting that the EC would soon offer parties an opportunity to prove that EVMs can be tampered with.

The Delhi CM then, and Ashutosh now, were possibly referring to the fact that the poll panel had not agreed to the AAP's demand of handing over an EVM to it to prove its hacking allegations.

Ashutosh further affirmed that the party’s participation seems difficult under such circumstances.

Party Leadership Will Decide: Sudhindra Bhadoria, BSP

BSP leader Sudhindra Bhadoria told The Quint that the party has already made its disagreements clear over the EVM tampering issue.

We have already made it known to the EC. It’s very well documented and has been made amply clear. We don’t need to say it over and over again. 
Sudhindra Bhadoria, BSP Leader

When asked about the 26 May deadline and how the party won’t be allowed to participate in the EVM challenge without proper intimation to the EC, he said:

Well, let that date come and party leadership and Mayawati ji will decide. We will take a call at that time.

Since They Can’t Blame Themselves, They’ll Blame the EVMs: Former CEC

N Gopalaswami, a former Chief Election Commissioner, believes that the objections raised by the parties soon after the elections were “more political than anything else”. He said that though they may have raised their issues against the EVM in “the heat of the moment”, they are aware of the “ground situation”.

They (opposition parties) are internally aware of what the ground situation is. Therefore they are not coming forward now – it’s only an affirmation that they know very well that people did not vote for them. Their ears are close to the ground. (But) nobody can blame their own workers or their own misfortune of not being able to attract the voters. Therefore they would blame the EVMs. The writing on the wall is very clear –they have to accept that the EVMs don’t have any problems.
N Gopalaswami, former Chief Election Commissioner

This, the former CEC believes, is the reason why all the parties are tight-lipped ahead of the deadline.

Though the Congress was not available for comment when the story was filed, party sources said that it is writing to the Election Commission asking for a postponement of the deadline. The story will be updated with the party’s comment when available.

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