Bharat Electronics Limited has said that contrary to reports, it will not be participating in any electronic voting machine hackathon. The hackathon is scheduled for May 18. Reports had said that BEL would participate and demonstrate how EVMs and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail machines would work.
However, on Tuesday the BEL issued a statement saying the story was “completely baseless and false”. The story was reported by Scroll.in as well. “BEL categorically states that it has not sold any EVMs or VVPATs to Botswana Election Commission. Botswana Election commission has invited team of BEL to show only the functionality of EVMs and VVPATs designed to meet the specific requirements of Botswana government,” Chairman and Managing Director MV Gowtama said. He added that these EVMs and VVPATs are different from the ones used by India’s Election Commission, and that the Botswana Election Commission had issued a statement that was incorrect.
News of the hackathon in Botswana came soon after India’s Election Commission did not consent to the Aam Aadmi Party’s request to hack one of their own EVMs. The EC has been mired in controversy recently, since parties including the AAP have alleged massive EVM tampering during the recently held Assembly polls and Delhi’s civic body elections. On April 11, as many as 16 Opposition parties had written to the commission alleging that the tampering of EVMs had created a “deep-seated trust deficit” on their reliability.