Bharatiya Janata Party National President Amit Shah on Wednesday said Opposition parties have disrespected the will of the people by raising doubts about the reliability of electronic voting machines. “Rattled by their defeat, these 22 parties are tarnishing the image of India and its democracy by doubting the electoral process,” he tweeted.
Shah said that most parties which have doubted the reliability of EVMs had won elections in the past, in which the machines were used for polling. “Why did these parties then take over the government?” he asked.
The BJP chief wondered whether Opposition parties were against the Supreme Court verdict which directed that the votes in EVMs should be tallied with five Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail machines in every Assembly constituency.
He also claimed that the demand of 22 Opposition parties that the Election Commission change its counting protocol and count five random VVPATs first was “unconstitutional”. Shah said an all-party consensus is necessary before the new protocol can be implemented.
Shah pointed out that Opposition parties began to criticise EVMs only after the sixth phase of polling, and intensified their protests after the exit polls were declared on May 19. “Exit polls are taken based not on EVMs but by asking questions to voters,” he tweeted. “So how can you doubt the integrity of EVMs based on exit polls?”
Most exit polls have shown that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance is set to secure a majority in the Lok Sabha. Some polls have even suggested that the alliance will win around 350 seats, with the BJP winning a majority on its own once again.
The BJP president said Opposition parties had rejected the Election Commission’s invitation for a demonstration on the working of EVMs. He added that the poll panel has also introduced VVPATs to make the electoral process even more transparent. “After so much transparency how appropriate is to doubt the integrity of the electoral process?” Shah asked.
Shah also indirectly attacked Rashtriya Lok Samta Party chief and former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha, for saying that the people of Bihar and his party’s allies in the Opposition alliance should stop the “looting of elections” even if they had to take up arms. “The Opposition should clarify who they seek to challenge through this violent and undemocratic statement,” he said.
On Tuesday, several Opposition leaders had raised concerns about the transportation of the voting machines ahead of counting of votes. The Election Commission, however, clarified that the machines were “absolutely safe” in strongrooms and the allegations of them being moved around allegedly to replace polled EVMs were false.
Representatives of 21 Opposition parties said that they reiterated their demand to the poll panel that it verify all VVPAT slips. The Opposition leaders made the announcements after their latest meeting with the Election Commission.
The same day, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition filed by NGO Tech4All, which had sought 100% verification of the VVPAT slips with the results from electronic voting machines.