In a bid to dispel doubts over the working of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and silence the voices against it, the Election Commission (EC) has announced to hold a meeting of all political parties on 12 May to assure them that the EVMs are tamper-proof and secured.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the EC said that it intends to use voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) in the coming elections in Himachal Pradesh and other states to bring in more transparency and boost public confidence in the poll process.
As the EVM tampering issue came to light following the assembly elections held in five states recently, leaders of various political parties raised their voice concerning the EMV's functioning. Here is a list of political leaders who raised their doubts and voiced concern over the EVM tampering.
Among the first to raise doubt over EVM tampering post the assembly election in Uttar Pradesh this year was Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati. The BSP chief on 11 March 2017 blamed tampering of EVM for her party being decimated in the state elections and said: "Either the EVMs did not accept votes other than that of the BJP, or the votes of other parties have gone to the BJP in the EVMs."
She said this after counting leads showed the BJP sweeping the state elections.
The next to raise doubt over EVM tampering after Mayawati was AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Alleging that the EVM tampering has led to the AAP’s poor showing in Punjab assembly poll, Kejriwal said: "Around 20 to 25 per cent of its votes may have been ‘transferred’ to the SAD-BJP coalition. AAP’s poor tally of 20 seats is beyond understanding and raises a big question mark on the reliability of electronic voting machines."
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh on 16 April 2017 alleged that Electronic Voting Machines can be tampered with even before they are deployed. "The Election Commission was limiting objections to EVM to hacking. It must allow examination of possibility of software tampering at (the) stage of writing it from server. There is a strong possibility of tampering coding at the stage of writing software ie EVM can be pre-tampered. So no need for hacking," he said in a tweet.
After submitting a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee over EVM tampering issue, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said: "Recent allegations of EVM tampering have raised questions on electoral process and an environment of fear and hatred prevails across the nation. An attempt is being made to destroy of the secular fabric of India."
After suffering a setback post the Delhi MCD poll debacle, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia too raised doubt on the EVM and said: "EVM tampering is a bitter truth in our democracy which can be mocked early on but we cannot stop talking truth on it."
Talking about the BJP's win in the Delhi MCD poll, Delhi Minister Gopal Rai said, "This is not Modi wave, instead this is EVM wave."
Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken too said, "Election Commission should investigate electronic voting machines. While if we can't trust EVM, we must trust EC."
Former Delhi chief minister and Congress leader Sheila Dikshit said, "The Election Commission and the government should clear the air surrounding electronic voting machine. The losing party attribute failure to EVMs whereas winning affirms that EVMs are fine."
Raising EVM tampering allegations against the Bharatiya Janata Party, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on April 25, 2017 said, “The Election Commission should answer on cases of EVM tampering. In future, elections must be held on ballot paper.”
Leaders of other political parties, who diubted EVM tampering, include the JD-U, DMK, NCP and Left parties.