Soon after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged victorious in the Uttar Pradesh elections, allegations of a possible manipulation of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) came to the fore.
From Mayawati to Arvind Kejriwal, questions were raised on whether EVMs were tampered with in Punjab, besides UP.
The SC, in its hearing, had directed the ECI to gradually move towards the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system.
VVPAT adds an additional layer of transparency where the voter can see a print out of his voting choice once the button is pressed on the EVM.
Where Were VVPAT Units Used in UP?
The ECI in its notification for the five state elections announced that VVPAT units will be used in 76 assembly constituencies across the five states covering 11,514 polling stations. VVPAT units were used in all the 40 constituencies of Goa, 4 in Uttarakhand , 20 in Uttar Pradesh, 4 in Manipur and 8 in Punjab.
In Uttar Pradesh, VVPAT units were used in the following 20 constituencies in the 2017 assembly elections.
Profile of The 20 Constituencies
These 20 constituencies are traditional BJP strongholds. Even in the 2012 assembly elections where the BJP won only 47 seats across the state, it had won 11 out of these 20 seats. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the BJP swept these assembly segments winning all 20. In the 2017 assembly election, the BJP won 17 of these seats and the SP won the remaining 3.
What About the Vote Share?
The BJP’s vote share in these 20 constituencies was around 32 percent in 2012, which increased to 55 percent in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. In 2017, the BJP’s vote share slightly decreased to 49.8 percent.
In 2012, the BJP’s vote share in the whole of UP was 15 percent, less than half its vote share in these 20 constituencies. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, its vote share in these 20 constituencies was 13 percent more than its vote share in the state.
This trend continued in 2017 also where its vote share in these 20 constituencies was 10 percent more than its vote share in the state.
In these 20 constituencies where the VVPAT units were used in 2017, the BJP as usual has done much better than its overall performance in the state.
There is nothing unusual about the results in these 20 constituencies meaning the allegations about manipulation of EVMs may be unfounded.
(This article, which has been shortened for length, was published in an arrangement with Factly.)