Amarinder Singh has stood up to defend electronic voting machine amid allegation of EVM tampering.
A second senior leader of the Congress has stood up to defend the Electronic Voting Machine or EVM amid the party's allegation of tampering. Amarinder Singh, the chief minister of Punjab - the only state the Congress won outright in the recent round of assembly elections -- cited a simple logic: "If EVMs were fixed then I wouldn't be sitting here. The Akalis would be."
The Congress had won 77 of Punjab's 117 seats, ending the decade-long rule of the Akali-BJP alliance. But this morning, it joined the other opposition parties to petition the Election Commission against the use of machines. The parties allege that the machines were rigged, which made the BJP's sweeping victory in recent elections in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand possible.
But former law minister Veerappa Moily, who represented the Congress at the meeting, said he favoured updating technology and an investigation by a "high powered committee into the allegations". There, however, was "no question of going manually, it's not a progressive step. I don't think we should go back," he said.
"We are censoring our own system. EVMs were launched when we were in power," Mr Moily told NDTV, standing by his comment that blaming EVMs for electoral losses was "defeatist." Concerns about EVMs had been raised even when the Congress was in power, and the machines had been tested, he added.
The statement by the two leaders fly in the face of comments by party leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad, and opposition leaders like Aam Aadmi Party's Arvind Kejriwal and BSP's Mayawati, who had demanded that the Election Commission ditch EVMs and revert to old-style ballot papers.
The Commission, which had repeatedly defended the EVMs, said this afternoon that in May, it would hold a hackathon, in which non-believers could try and hack the machines.
The complaints against the EVMs started after a controversial demonstration of a machine Madhya Pradesh's Bhind district, which had allegedly been used in Kanpur days before.
The opposition parties claimed that the video of a demonstration by an election officer showed an EVM recording a vote in favour of the BJP irrespective of which party was selected. The Election Commission had said the machine in question was an unused VVPAT or Voter Verified Audit Slip Facility, which was kept in reserve during the elections in Uttar Pradesh. The Commission had also pointed out that the 45-day cooling off period that is necessary for an EVM is not required for a VVPAT machine.