The Election Commission on Saturday started its Electronic Voting Machine challenge with only the Nationalist Congress Party and Communist Party of India (Marxist) as participants, ANI reported. However, neither the NCP nor the CPM participated in the challenge, said Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi.
While the CPM said it only wished to understand the process, the NCP, too, was only interested to participate in an “academic exercise”. Later, the CPM asked the EC to hold more such awareness sessions, said the poll monitoring body.
Earlier in the day, the EC had said that the participants would be allowed to “physically examine” the machines, its circuits, chips and motherboard, but they cannot remove or replace any part. The commission had brought 14 machines that were used during the recently-held Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand Assembly polls.
Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party opened registration for its parallel EVM hackathon that it will conduct as part of its protest against the poll monitoring body. The Arvind Kejriwal-led party had said it would conduct a parallel hackathon on the same day as the challenge after the poll body rejected the party’s idea of conducting an “open hackathon”.
The AAP had complained that it will not be possible for the participants to prove tampering “without a free hand” to do so. Last month, AAP MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj had demonstrated the hacking of an EVM in the Delhi Assembly. The Election Commission had then said it was an EVM “look-alike” and not its machine.
Bharadwaj had said if contestants were to follow the guidelines mentioned by the poll body, then tampering could never be proved. “We challenge all experts, including those of ECI, BHEL and Electronics Corporation of India Limited, to try hacking them following ECI’s restrictions,” he had said according to Hindustan Times. “They will not be able to do it.”
The EC had thrown an open challenge to all national and state political parties from June 3 to prove that the machines cannot be tampered with. However, none of the major political parties opted to take part in the challenge.
Allegations of EVM tampering had come up after the Bharatiya Janata Party had swept state elections in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. AAP claimed that it had lost the Punjab polls because of rigged EVMs, and later stepped up its charges after the BJP won in Delhi’s civic polls as well.