Anti-climax in Delhi assembly: AAP attacks EVMs, skips graft charges

New Delhi, May 9 In a complete anti-climax in the midst of swirling allegations against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the special day-long session of the Delhi assembly on Tuesday witnessed the AAP launching an attack on the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and completely skipping any discussion on the graft charges.

Amid expectations that the Chief Minister will break his silence on the allegations against him levelled by sacked minister Kapil Mishra, Kejriwal did not speak in the House but later told the media outside that EVMs can be tampered with in 90 seconds by changing the motherboard if the Election Commission provides them the machines.

Even as AAP’s rivals called the session a diversionary tactic, the House passed a resolution and requested President Pranab Mukherjee and the Election Commission to ensure that all elections were held using EVMs with Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines. The resolution also called for tallying of votes in 25 per cent randomly-selected booths with the paper trail generated by VVPAT machines.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia who spoke at the end of the debate also concentrated his attack on EVMs.

Claiming that it was possible to hack the machines, Sisodia said EVM-tampering tantamounts to a “conspiracy to murder democracy”.

He said the whole issue cannot be ignored by terming it as a technical snag.

The session began amidst high drama when opposition leader Vijender Gupta of the BJP was marshalled out after he created a ruckus raising corruption allegations against Kejriwal.

The Bharatiya Janata Party legislator moved an adjournment motion seeking a debate alleging a Rs 1,000 crore land scam involving Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain which was disallowed by Speaker Ram Niwas Goel.

Despite repeated requests and warnings, Gupta continued to demand his motion be taken up following which he was suspended and ordered out. Outside the House, he levelled a series of allegations against the government, Kejriwal and Jain.

The session was utilised by AAP legislator Saurabh Bharadwaj who sought to demonstrate how an EVM can be tampered with to rig poll results. The attack on machines came against the backdrop of the AAP losing Punjab and Goa assembly polls and the April 23 civic body elections in Delhi.

Bharadwaj brought an EVM prototype used by the Election Commission and claimed how codes embedded inside can be used to manipulate results. He did not name the BJP but provided enough hints to insinuate that it was the beneficiary.

“I will show you how the machines on which the faith of democracy rests can be tampered with. An ordinary engineer like me with just 10-15 days of hard work can tamper with them to ensure that votes go only to one desired party or candidate,” he said.

Neither Bharadwaj nor the Chief Minister who was present during the entire debate or any other AAP member spoke on the bribery charges.

After leader of the opposition Vijender Gupta was marshalled out of the House, the lone BJP MLA present in the House Manjinder Singh Sirsa took serious objection to Bharadwaj’s comments.

Outside the House, Kejriwal dared the Election Commission to give EVMs to the AAP which he said will change their motherboards in 90 seconds and demonstrate how easily the machines can be tampered with.

He, however, avoided answers on the bribery charges made against him by Mishra.

He said Bharadwaj, an engineer, had shown how chip technology could be manipulated and how EVMs could be tampered with.

“How easily it is possible. It is dangerous for democracy and the country. Give AAP the EVMs. In 90 seconds the motherboard can be changed.”

The Election Commission on its part rejected the AAP’s claims. It said the machine that was displayed in the assembly was only a “prototype” and not its machine as the EVMs used for polling are with the Commission.

“What they used is a prototype of an EVM, how can they say they have hacked an EVM,” said an official from the Election Commission.

Mishra outside the assembly alleged that the EVM demonstration was just a tactic employed by the AAP government was to divert public attention from real issues.

“People don’t want to vote for Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal anymore and they just want to hide this fact,” said Mishra who on Sunday claimed that he saw Jain hand over Rs 2 crore to Kejriwal, a charge denied by the AAP.

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