Former President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday expressed concerns over alleged tampering of Electronic Voting Machines and said that the prime responsibility of the Election Commission of India should be to put all speculation around the voting machines to an end.
Opposition leaders have alleged that two trucks carrying EVMs were caught in Chandauli Lok Sabha constituency while that candidates were prevented from guarding the EVM strong rooms in Ghazipur district of Uttar Pradesh. The Ghazipur district administration said earlier in the day that apprehension regarding EVMs were baseless.
“The safety and security of EVMs which are in the custody of ECI is the responsibility of the Commission,” Mukherjee said in a statement. The Congress leader also said that “people’s mandate is sacrosanct” and it has to be “above any iota of reasonable doubt”. “There can be no room for speculations that challenge the very basis of our democracy,” he said.
He further said: “It is my considered opinion that it is the ‘workmen’ who decide how the institutional ‘tools’ perform.” Mukherjee also put the responsibility of maintaining institutional integrity amid speculations over the reliability of the EVMs. “The onus of ensuring institutional integrity in this case lies with the Election Commission of India [ECI]. They must do so and put all speculations to rest,” he said.
Mukherjee’s statement comes a day after he had praised the poll panel for conducting the Lok Sabha polls in a “perfect” manner. Mukherjee had also said that “only a bad workman quarrels with his tools”. “A good workman knows how to utilise these tools,” he added.
On Sunday, Congress President Rahul Gandhi had criticised the Election Commission in a tweet, saying, “From Electoral Bonds & EVMs to manipulating the election schedule, NaMo TV, ‘Modi’s Army’ & now the drama in Kedarnath; the Election Commission’s capitulation before Mr Modi & his gang is obvious to all Indians.”
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has also dismissed the predictions, calling them “exit poll gossip”. “The game plan is to manipulate or replace thousands of EVMs [electronic voting machines] through this gossip,” she had said on Sunday.
Most exit polls have predicted a comfortable win for the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance.