Govt rubbishes claims about EVM tampering
The government on Thursday rubbished claims about EVM tampering even as it promised all support to the Election Commission's endeavour of maximising the use of voting machines with paper trail, but in a phased-manner.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, while replying to a debate on Electoral Reforms in the Rajya Sabha, however, did not give a direct response to questions by the opposition with regard to Rs 3,000 crore sought by the EC for having poll machines with paper trail adequate enough for the entire country.
He slammed parties like the BSP, the SP and the Congress for raising questions over the EVMs against the backdrop of their defeat in the recent Uttar Pradesh polls. "If you win, then the EVMs are fine, but if you lose, then the EVMs are tampered. Wow! This is a great logic," he said, taunting these parties.
While hitting out at the opposition parties, he cited their poll victories earlier and asked why such questions over EVMs were not raised then.
Members of the Congress, the SP, the BSP and the Left staged a walkout, expressing dissatisfaction over the minister's reply. Prasad said these three parties had not been defeated by the EVMs but had been rejected by the people and they should accept this fact.
The EVMs are "completely safe", he asserted, adding, "I don't buy this logic that EVMs have not done a good job. It is doing a very good job."
While attacking the Congress, the BSP and the SP, he said, "The EC had called an all-party meeting in 2006 but they never raised this issue then."
Targeting the BSP whose chief Mayawati has been in the forefront of raising questions over the EVMs, he said, "Had they (BSP) convinced the people, they would have not lost elections so badly with 19 seats." On the issue of EVMs with paper trail or Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT), the minister said the EC and even the courts were of the view that machines should be used in a phased manner.
"Surely, in a phased manner the government will provide and will discuss," he said.
VVPATs have already been used on experimental basis in a number of polling booths, including during the recent elections.
Prasad said the EC will take a call on using these machines in the next round of assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, due later this year. "The EC is the best judge on this issue... The government does not want to intervene. But if any assistance is required the government is available," the minister said. He said logistical issues are involved in implementing VVPATs across the country in one go.