The Election Commission on Saturday dismissed the Aam Aadmi Party’s charge that the poll panel was “running away” from organising a no-holds barred marathon, saying it never made any such promise, reported IANS. It also rejected the Congress’s demand to allow it to access the motherboard of the EVMs in the planned challenge, saying the EVM hacking challenge would be conducted only as per the framework of “existing administrative safeguards”.

The EC said it had clearly explained during the All Party Meeting on May 12 that it will offer an “EVM challenge and not a hackathon”. “Hence, the statement that the commission is backtracking from hackathon is absolutely baseless,” it told AAP in a letter. The AAP’s charge that the EC wasn’t allowing “anyone to touch the ECM” was also dismissed.

In response, AAP claimed the commission never had any intention to throw open its machines for any scrutiny to begin with.

In a separate reply to Congress leader Randeep Surjewala, the EC said, “The Commission has specified that the EVM Challenge would be conducted within the framework of the existing administrative safeguards and security protocols which are strictly followed in the field in the ground level situation while EVM are deployed.”

AAP had earlier said that it was unlikely to take up the challenge on the existing “terms and conditions”. The party, in a letter to the poll commission, had said that it was disappointed with the EC’s decision to organise a “fakeathon”, which was nothing but a “mockery of democracy”.

The EC had thrown an open challenge to all national and state political parties from June 3 onwards to prove that the machines cannot be tampered with. However, none of the major political parties have opted to take part in the actual challenge. The only parties to participate will be the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Nationalist Congress Party.

Allegations of EVM tampering had come up after the Bharatiya Janata Party had swept state elections in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. AAP claimed it had lost the Punjab polls because of this, and later stepped up its charges after the BJP defeated it in Delhi’s civic polls as well.