INDIA Allies Latch On To Elon Musk's Remarks To Make 'EVM Tampering' Point

BJP leader Rajeev Chandrasekhar has said Elon Musk's remark is a "huge sweeping generalization statement that implies no one can build secure digital hardware".

INDIA Allies Latch On To Elon Musk's Remarks To Make 'EVM Tampering' Point

Opposition leaders have renewed their attack on Centre over EVMs after Elon Musk's tweet

New Delhi:

More than a week after the Lok Sabha election results, the debate over Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) and whether they can be hacked is back under the spotlight, thanks to 'X' Boss Elon Musk.

A remark by the Tesla CEO on EVMs prompted a sharp response from BJP leader and former technology minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar. And now, Opposition leaders are sharing Mr Musk's tweet to emphasise their concerns over EVMs.

Musk's post, in which he flagged the risk of EVMs being hacked, also comes 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. The reports have fuelled the EVM debate, with Opposition leaders questioning the Election Commission's "silence".

Elon Musk's tweet on EVMs was in reply to a post by Robert F Kennedy Jr, nephew of former US President John F Kennedy and independent hopeful for the next US Elections, on polling in poll irregularities in Puerto Rico. "We should eliminate electronic voting machines. The risk of being hacked by humans or AI, while small, is still too high," Musk posted.

In response, former Union minister Chandrasekhar said Musk's remark is a "huge sweeping generalization statement that implies no one can build secure digital hardware".

"@elonmusk's view may apply to US n other places - where they use regular compute platforms to build Internet connected Voting machines. But Indian EVMs are custom designed, secure and isolated from any network or media - No connectivity, no bluetooth, wifi, Internet. ie 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 wud be happy to run a tutorial Elon," he said.

This drew a short response from Musk, as he doubled down on his point. "Anything can be hacked," he said. Mr Chandrasekhar argued that while "anything is possible", EVMs continue to be a reliable voting method as compared to paper ballots.

Jumping into the debate, Opposition leaders shared Elon Musk's remarks to stress their oft-repeated concerns about the EVM method.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said EVMs in Indian "are a 'black box' and nobody is allowed to scrutinize them".

"Serious concerns are being raised about transparency in our electoral process. Democracy ends up becoming a sham and prone to fraud when institutions lack accountability," he said, while sharing Musk's post and a news report on Ravindra Waikar's election.

Akhilesh Yadav, Samajwadi Party chief and a Congress ally, shared Musk's post. "Technology is to remove problems, if they become a cause of problems, their use must be stopped. 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," he said, demanding that upcoming polls be conducted by ballot paper method.

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.

The INDIA Opposition bloc, too, shared Elon Musk's remarks from its official handle. 

The Election Commission maintains that the EVMs constitute a viable voting method and robust technical and administrative safeguards are in place for their use.

Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar recently took a swipe at those questioning EVMs. Addressing the media after the Lok Sabha poll results, he said, "The results of EVM are in front of everyone. Why to accuse that poor fellow? Let it rest for a few days. Let EVM rest till the next election. Then it will come out, then its battery will be changed, then its papers will be changed. Then it will get abused again, but will deliver good results. It has been showing similar results since the last 20-22 elections, the government keeps changing," he said.