Opinion: Opposition parties’ anti-EVM tactics baffling

Opinion: Opposition parties’ anti-EVM tactics baffling

The synchronised shouting against the EVMs by the opposition parties seems to be playing right into the hands of conspiracy theorists and mischief-mongers. Despite the infamous fiasco of the 'EVM hackathon' in London last January, it is surprising that the parties are still trying to flog a discredited and patently false idea.

The opposition tactics are also baffling because it is all over the place. All through the elections, the opposition cried themselves hoarse with the allegations that the EVMs were manipulateNow that the elections are over, they have seamlessly changed tack and are now claiming that the EVMs used for balloting are being stealthily replaced by standby EVMs with pre-cast votes in favour of the BJP and its allies. Again, a charge not backed by any hard evidence.

The strongrooms where the EVMs are stored are guarded not just by State security personnel but also by the representatives of the various candidates. They stand vigil round the clock and the possibility of hanky-panky is very remote. The EVMs also carry a unique number, and all candidates have a list of these numbers that they can cross-verify at any point. While the parties have been making these allegations in chorus, not one candidate has come up with any proof to corroborate this charge.d, and in many places they were 'programmed' to cast votes in favour of only one candidate (in this case, the NDA candidates).

In general, experts concur that individual EVMs can be hacked or can malfunction. But manipulating an entire set of EVMs to tweak the results of such a massive election is more or less out of the question. The opposition parties, by parroting invalidated theories, are grossly undermining an entire electoral system.

The opposition parties’ fanciful claims come across as losers' bleating. It is illuminating to know that it was the BJP that played the first note of suspicion against the EVMs in the aftermath of its loss in the 2004 general elections. In 2009, after another defeat, the BJP upped its tone of opposition to the EVMs. It continued to harp on the same theme till the run-up to the 2014 polls. The moment the NDA triumphed in 2014, the Congress picked up the baton and has been flogging the horse since then.

Even after it won the Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections in December last, Rahul Gandhi alleged that something was amiss with the EVMs. That he was okay with the results thrown up by the EVMs that he was not okay with was indeed ironic.

The political parties should realise that going back to the paper ballot is not an option, and also, the charges against the EVMs are mostly ill-directed. If anything, the parties would do well to focus on many areas of lacunae in the Election Commission’s general conduct.

This election, we saw the poll panel stumble from controversy to another. The EC's opacity and its contentious approach with regard to violations of Model Code of Conduct and the interminably long poll phases are things that need urgent attention of all stakeholders.

The opposition parties would do well to realise that their orchestrated plan against the EVMs is actually undermining the poll process more than EC's alleged omissions and commissions.