The Election Commission of India on Monday reiterated that electronic voting machines cannot be hacked. The poll body was reacting to allegations levelled at a press conference in London, where a United States-based “cyber expert” claimed that the 2014 General Elections were rigged.
The commission said it was examining what legal action it can take in the matter.
“It has come to the notice of Election Commission of India that an event claiming to demonstrate [that] EVMs used by ECI can be tampered with, has been organised in London,” the commission said in a statement. “Whereas, the Election Commission has been wary of becoming a party to this motivated slug fest, it firmly stands by the empirical facts about foolproof nature of ECI EVMs deployed in elections in India.”
The poll body said Bharat Electronics Limited and Electronics Corporation of India Limited manufacture the voting machines “under very strict supervisory and security conditions”. These machines are produced using rigorous standard operating procedures observed by a panel of technical experts constituted in 2010, it added.
Earlier in the evening, “cyber expert” Syed Shuja also alleged at the London event that Bharatiya Janata Party leader Gopinath Munde, who died in an accident in 2014, was murdered because he knew about the alleged tampering of the voting machines. The BJP had hacked the machines using a modulator that transmits military-grade frequency, he alleged.
Shuja also claimed that journalist Gauri Lankesh had agreed to do a story based on his findings about the rigged machines. However, Lankesh was murdered in September 2017.
Shuja claimed he had invited Election Commission officials to attend the event, but the poll body did not send any representative. Congress leader Kapil Sibal attended the press conference, but no other leader from the Congress or any other political party was present.
Congress gets paid to defame the country: BJP
Meanwhile, the BJP lashed out at the Congress after Sibal attended the press conference. Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi claimed that Congress President Rahul Gandhi and United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi had sent Sibal to London, ANI reported. “The Congress gets paid to defame the nation, so they needed to send a ‘postman’ to the event,” he alleged.
“Congress has a lot of freelancers, who sometimes reach even Pakistan to take help for removing [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi,” Naqvi added. “They are making a hacking horror show of their possible defeat in the upcoming elections.”
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the allegations levelled at the London event were a lie. “After Rafale, the non-existent loan waiver to 15 industrialists – the next big lie – EVM hacking,” Jaitley tweeted. “Was the Election Commission and millions of staffers involved in manufacturing, programming of EVMs and conduct of elections during the UPA government in collusion with the BJP? Absolutely rubbish.”
Jaitley wondered if the Congress believed that the people would “swallow any garbage”. “Insanity in the Congress party is increasingly becoming contagious,” he added.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee did not directly refer to the allegations but said democracy in the country needs to be protected. “All Opposition parties discussed the EVM issue after the United India rally,” she tweeted. “We are working closely together and decided on January 19 itself to consistently take up the matter with the Election Commission. Yes, every vote counts.”