Election Commission’s EVM challenge fizzles out as CPM, NCP stay away
NEW DELHI: The Election Commission’s ‘EVM challenge’, announced after over a dozen parties questioned the infallibility of EVMs in the backdrop of recent state poll results , ended in an anti-climax on Saturday with neither of the two takers for the ‘dare’, CPM and NCP, coming forward to demonstrate that the machines could be tampered with.
While AAP and BSP, which were at forefront of the campaign against EVMs, stayed away from the challenge, CPM and NCP backed out at the eleventh hour.
CPM insisted it had never intended to attempt tampering and only participated to understand the EVM process. NCP, too, said it was interested only in participating in an academic exercise and opted out of the challenge after it was told by EC that its EVMs were different from those used in local polls, which happened to be the source of party’s concerns regarding EVMs. It, however, said a system should be developed to distinguish ECI’s EVMs from that of state election commissions’.
Chief election commissioner Nasim Zaidi told reporters later that with the EVM challenge now done and with 100% use of VVPAT machines in all future polls, the issue of tamperability “stands closed”. Also mentioning the Uttarakhand HC order restraining political parties and others from criticising the use of EVMs in recent state polls till all poll petitions are disposed of, Zaidi said that in the event of any party violating the order, the “EC will take an appropriate decision”.
During the EVM challenge at the EC headquarters here on Saturday, NCP representative Vandana Chavan first refused to try tampering the EVMs on the grounds that the party was not provided with the memory and battery number of the EVMs in advance, as requested. She even handed NCP’s letter to EC in this regard. EC officials explained this was not possible as the EVMs were in a sealed condition and could only be opened in the presence of party representatives in the commission.
When EC offered a sealed EVM of its choice to NCP for opening and viewing the memory and battery number, NCP said it could not participate in the challenge due to non-availability of the information in advance. The NCP representative also raised an objection to the last minute change in the EVM selection protocol, which EC later said was in line with framework of the EVM challenge announced earlier. The commission, however told NCP that it could come back later to attempt tampering.
Finally, when EC clarified that ECI EVMs were not used in local polls, NCP decided to opt out of the challenge.
CPM representatives were given a detailed demonstration by the EC technical team. “CPM team expressed complete satisfaction and suggested that commission hold such demonstration… to allay doubts regarding EVMs,” said Zaidi.