NEW DELHI: The demonstration by Aam Aadmi party leader Saurabh Bharadwaj, also an engineer like Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, has created a flutter amongst the Opposition parties with the Congress party also reluctantly convening a meeting to discuss the EVM tampering issue. The very fact that the demonstration was made on the floor of the Delhi Assembly, in the presence of several Opposition leaders in the Visitors Gallery, has given new seriousness to the issue that the Election Commission and the BJP had been dismissing as “irrelevant.”

The EC has convened a meeting of all the Opposition parties but reports of a EC supervised ‘hackathon’ have no legitimacy, in that the Commission has issued no such intimation to any one. Source based reports instead have appeared in different sections of the media insisting that the EC has invited all political parties to bring in their hackers to get into the EVMs that the poll body continues to insist is ‘tamperproof.’

The Left parties have supported the EC position till date, as has the Congress. Bahujan Samaj party leader Mayawati was the first in fact, to raise the tampering issue after the Uttar Pradesh polls. The Janata Dal(U) is willing to be convinced. AAP has been insisting that the EVMs need scrutiny, along with remedial measures like a paper trail, a position that the BJP had also taken when it was out of power.

AAP for instance has said that if the hackathon does take place as planted by ‘sources’ then the EC would be asked to comply with same basic conditions put forward by the Opposition parties. AAP would like to a couple of hours for its engineers to examine the EVMs supplied by the EC, and perhaps a couple of days to hack in. This is because different machines are in use, the point being that if a

The EVMs are manufactured by two local public sector companies whose engineers are authorised to check the machines being used for the elections. Bharadwaj basically demonstrated that the motherboard of the EVMs can be changed, and a new code then used to tamper with the votes cast in that machine so that these all go in favour of one party.

Sources rebutted the questions being raised by the media, the EC and the BJP insofar as allegations of tampering are concerned as follows:

1. The machines are foolproof and cannot be tampered with

Bharadwaj has clearly shown it is possible, and in 99 seconds the motherboard can be changed with a new code then favouring any one political party. This even the EC has recognised was done in the Delhi Assembly, its plea now being that the EVM used was not from the supply cleared and code for polls specifically.

To this the sources said that the point made at the demonstration was that an EVM motherboard could be changed, and with a new code the machine brought under control to perform in favour of a specific political party. This code can be fed into the machine by a primed ‘voter’ who goes into the booth, votes and then punches in the code that from then on makes the EVM convert all successive votes for one political party. In this case the BJP that is at the receiving end of the Opposition accusations.

2. Even if the machine can be tampered with, why did the Congress and not the BJP win Punjab for instance?

This is because tampering is being done within some levels of credibility. While all EVM machines are tampered, codes are fed into only some in constituencies that are strategically decided upon. In these specific booths primed ‘voters’ are sent in to punch in the code. It all takes seconds. In Punjab, the sources said, the fight was seen between Congress and Aam Aadmi Party wherein even media reports had suggested at the time that the BJP workers had been asked to direct votes to the Congress that was seen as a lesser threat than AAP and Kejriwal. Besides Akali Dal was the main partner here. UP was far more crucial for the BJP.

In Delhi for instance about 13000 EVMs are required for an election. Tampering with just 1000 would change the results, the sources pointed out. Also in the MCD elections that the BJP swept recently, despite having the requisite number of machines, the central government insisted on getting 5000 EVMs from its own BJP state Rajasthan. AAP had raised this publicly and sent in representations that were not acted upon.

3. A large cadre force would be required to punch in the codes, so this could also ensure ‘leaks’ that no political party would like to risk.

The Congress did not do it, this is almost certain. It has to be a cadre based organisation like the RSS that has full control on the primed ‘voters’ , and ensures that there is no leakage. After all thousands of trolls are being used on the social media, primed and indoctrinated to attack specific individuals as well. There has been no leakage except for one girl who left saying she could not indulge in threats and abuse like the others hired for the same. However, her allegations in the current environment barely worked to dent the troll wall.

This issue of tampering is now firmly in the Opposition spotlights with the AAP demonstration now convincing most political parties about the need for a serious review of EVMs. As a senior Opposition leader said, “if this issue is not taken up threadbare, we can easily forget about the 2019 elections where the BJP will come in with more than a two thirds majority.” It should not be taken lightly, and all the parties should join to demand a paper trail, he insisted. What about a return to the ballot paeper? That would be the best option as while there were cases of booth capturing then, these came out in the open and repolling could be ordered. Here no one knows what is inside that EVM machine, was the response.