Mumbai: Activists pull up socks against EVM manipulation

Updated: Jul 18, 2019, 08:44 IST | Hemal Ashar

Rights group claims Electronic Voting Manipulation helped BJP win; presses for back to paper ballot for October Assembly elections

Mumbai: Activists pull up socks against EVM manipulation
Jyoti Badekar, Dhananjay Shinde, Firoze Mithiborwala address the press at a conference yesterday

A rallying cry, EVM hatao, desh bachao, went up at the press club at Azad Maidan on Wednesday as activists called for returning to ballot paper in all future elections. They held a press meet citing an agenda for August 9, where they claim there will be a long march from Chaitya Bhoomi (Dadar) to August Kranti Maidan (near Gowalia Tank) to raise awareness about how EVMs are manipulated and why we need an EVM-mukt bharat.

Given that the activists on the dais were all against PM Narendra Modi, by EVM-mukt bharat do they really mean BJP-mukt bharat? Activist Ravi Bhilane said, "I am not for or against a particular party but against EVM manipulation per se. Our movement [awareness and andolan against EVMs] started the day the Lok Sabha election results were declared. There was a shocked silence across the nation at the scale of the BJP win," claimed Bhilane, who is part of the Jan Andolan National Working Committee against EVMs. "We want the forthcoming Assembly elections to be fought via the paper ballot."

Tamper tumult

Activist Firoze Mithiborwala slammed this government as, "not Modi sarkar but an EVM sarkar." Calling the media Modi media, Mithiborwala asked, "how can EVMs be trusted? We have seen during elections unattended EVMs at hotels, in autorickshaws. When we ask for data and numbers, we are repeatedly told we need to have faith in the government. Why not divulge hard facts instead of telling people to have faith?"

Mithiborwala said, "if indeed these were free and fair elections then the BJP would not have won so many seats. I would say in the vicinity of 150 to 170."

For Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) Dhananjay Shinde, "the elections, because of the EVM tampering was like a cricket match which is fixed, where the result is known in advance. It is one of the country's biggest scams and is stealing the rights of the people."

The fourth speaker Jyoti Badekar claimed, "everybody is talking about EVM manipulation. We were seeing pictures on television during elections of abandoned, unattended EVMs. People feel they cannot guarantee that their vote will go to the party they voted for."

Inconvenient questions

When the speakers were asked why there was no outcry about EVM manipulation when the Congress won three states in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in the Assembly elections in 2018 the Jan Andolan committee against EVMs stated somewhat enigmatically, "this was part of a bigger design of the BJP. It was a strategy or a ploy. The Congress can win the smaller elections, but they will win the general election." There was also the question though of the previous 2009 elections which were won by the Congress where EVMs too were used. Bhilane said, "we have to look at the future." Shinde and the other speakers challenged the BJP to go back to the paper ballot. They said Modi did a "big mistake by claiming so many seats. If the margin was less, it would not have raised suspicion," they finished, challenging the BJP to a debate on EVMs and tampering.

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