"Every Tesla Car Can Be Hacked": Ex-Minister Shreds Elon Musk's EVM Comment

"There is a limit in terms of where this paradigm of hacking can extend," Rajeev Chandrasekhar said.

'Every Tesla Car Can Be Hacked': Ex-Minister Shreds Elon Musk's EVM Comment

Rajeev Chandrasekhar said going by the Tesla chief's logic, "every Tesla car can be hacked".

New Delhi:

Former Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who had offered US billionaire Elon Musk a "tutorial" on Indian Electronic Voting Machines, today doubled down on his argument, saying going by the Tesla chief's logic, "every Tesla car can be hacked".

Responding to Mr Musk's claim that "everything can be hacked", Mr Chandrasekhar, who headed the Union ministry of Electronics and Information Technology during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's second tenure, said, "I think he is factually incorrect in saying that".

"A calculator or a toaster cannot be hacked. Therefore, there is a limit in terms of where this paradigm of hacking can extend," he told news agency ANI. "He (Elon Musk) is factually wrong... To claim that there cannot be a secure digital product in the world is to then say that every Tesla car can be hacked," he added.

Mr Musk would be right only if the machines in question are connected like phones or computers, which EVMs are not, Mr Chandrasekhar had earlier argued. "Elon Musk's view may apply to the US and other places - where they use regular compute platforms to build internet-connected voting machines," he had said.

"Elon Musk has not understood what the Indian EVM is. Indian EVMs do not lend themselves to being hacked because they are precisely a very limited-intelligence device," he explained today.

The Tesla chief had set the ball rolling over the weekend with his post questioning the reliability of EVMs.

"We should eliminate electronic voting machines. The risk of being hacked by humans or AI, while small, is still too high," he had posted on X in response to Independent US Presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy Jr's post on reports that Puerto Rico's elections saw voting irregularities in hundreds of EVMs.

As the Opposition used the post to support its reservations about EVMs, Mr Chandrasekhar claimed that Mr Musk's comment was a "huge sweeping generalisation".

"This is a huge sweeping generalisation statement that implies no one can build secure digital hardware. Wrong," replied the former minister. "No connectivity, no bluetooth, wifi, Internet; there is no way in. Factory-programmed controllers that cannot be reprogrammed. Electronic voting machines can be architected and built right as India has done. We would be happy to run a tutorial, Elon," his post read.

"Anything can be hacked," shot back Mr Musk.

Coming amid reports that claimed a relative of Ravindra Waikar, Shiv Sena MP from Mumbai North West, was using a phone that could be connected to an EVM, Mr Musk's comments fuelled massive Opposition criticism.

Congress's Rahul Gandhi said EVMs in India "are a 'black box" and "nobody is allowed to scrutinize them". "Serious concerns are being raised about transparency in our electoral process," he added.

"When risks of EVM tampering are being flagged in several elections across the world and well-known technology experts are flagging risks, the BJP must clear the air on why they are bent on using EVMs," posted Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav.

Rajya Sabha MP and Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) leader Priyanka Chaturvedi flagged the reports on Mumbai election. "This is a fraud at the highest level and yet the @ECISVEEP continues to sleep," she said in a post on X.

Calls for a return to paper ballot has already been decisively turned down by the Supreme Court, which said the machines offer significant advantages. They have eliminated booth capturing and invalid votes, reduce paper wastage and  expedite the counting process minimizing errors, the judges have said.