- BJP alleged hacking expert's press conference was sponsored by Congress
- Kapil Sibal's presence at the press conference has embarrassed Congress
- Election body is contemplating legal action against Syed Shuja
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal, lacerated by the ruling BJP over his presence at a "hackathon" in which a so-called cyber expert made a series of unsubstantiated claims, agreed today that much of what was said "sounds like science fiction" but insisted that it was the job of the media or investigators to verify the allegations.
Syed Shuja, a self-proclaimed cyber expert based in the US, had called the hackathon in London on Monday to demonstrate EVM hacking but, instead, he made sensational allegations without offering a shred of proof.
Among the claims was that EVMs or Electronic Voting Machines were manipulated during the 2014 national election and senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde was "murdered" before he could expose it.
A deeply embarrassed Congress distanced itself from the event saying it had nothing to do with the hackathon, that it "does not know any of these principal actors and it has no role to play."
The disclaimer hasn't impressed the BJP, which accuses the Congress of sponsoring and scripting the event.
"This was a Congress-sponsored London press conference. Is the Congress-sponsored event designed to defame the popular mandate of 2014? Is it meant to insult the nation's voters," Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad questioned.
Mr Prasad also raised questions about the expert's credentials and asked: "What was Mr Kapil Sibal doing there? In what capacity was Kapil Sibal present there? The BJP would like to ask this question. My allegation is that Kapil Sibal had gone to London to monitor the event on behalf of the Congress."
He described the claims made by Mr Shuja as "colossal nonsense."
On Mr Shuja's claims on Gopinath Munde being killed because he knew of the 2014 "rigging", the minister said: "Sudhir Gupta, an AIIMS doctor, has said he did the post-mortem and Mr Munde died of a neck injury. How can they call it murder?" Mr Munde died in a car crash in 2014.
The second "bakwas (nonsense)", Mr Prasad said, was that EVMs were hacked for all elections but those in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the states that the BJP lost to the Congress in last month's state polls.
"No proof, no witness, no questions," Mr Prasad said.
The "expert" had also claimed his team members were shot dead and his parents were burnt alive before he escaped to the US.
Mr Sibal said he had gone to London for personal work but went to the event after an invite that also went to the BJP.
"If he has made some claims about EVMs, it is your responsibilty (media) to verify the claims, and it should be investigated," Mr Sibal said, calling Mr Prasad's allegations "childish".
The issue, he said, was linked to the country's future, democracy and people, not any political party.
In damage control mode, the Congress has demanded that the Election Commission restore confidence in the vote machines and investigate the "hacker's" claims.
The Election Commission, however, is contemplating legal action against the "expert", who had claimed to have worked with the poll body once.
Election Results for Lok Sabha Election 2019 will be out on May 23. Get the latest election news and live updates on ndtv.com/elections. Catch all the action on NDTV Live. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for news updates from each of the 543 parliamentary seats for the election 2019