Editorial

ECI’s obstinate stand

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 5/22/2019 11:54:48 AM IST

 Results of the Lok Sabha elections will be declared from May 23 onwards and that will prove whether the contentions of the opposition parties over EVMs were based on facts or were simply baseless allegations. Leaders of 22 Opposition parties have been making hue and cry about their misapprehensions that Electronic Voting Machines(EVMs) are being manipulated to favour the BJP in the recently held Lok Sabha polls. They had approached the Supreme court for Voter Verification Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips. The court had on May 7 dismissed a plea of 21 Opposition parties, led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, to review its judgment rejecting 50% random physical verification of EVMs using VVPAT. The biggest issue over the concerns is not whether the EVMs have been tampered through some sophisticated gadgetry as alleged but why is the ECI continuously shying away from taking the challenge to disprove the allegations or even accept the demand to count at least 50% of the EVMs along with VVPAT?.If there are genuine concerns that appear to be supported by convincing technical argument, then the ECI must take up the challenge. There’s no doubt that conducting elections in India is a mammoth, constantly evolving process. While there’s no denying that any system is flawed and can be exploited, the question is – are the loopholes big enough to impact election outcomes? So far, unlike in the past where ballot papers in sacks were either lost in transit or exchanged, it is difficult to do the same with EVMs. Also complaints against EVMs need to be looked without delay in order to preserve the sanctity of the elections and the reliability of the EVMs. The opposition parties again approached the ECI to conduct at least 50% of the EVM counting with VVPAT but that too was shot down. According to information provided by media, the EVMs are supposed to have a firmware for tamper proof. However as per RTI, this software was found not to be tamper proof as it did not have OTP. When the demand was made to ECI to reveal the particular software used, the manufacturer, ECIL refused outright on the specious plea that it involved national security. The apprehensions felt by the opposition parties may be about fear of losing or actually, fear of losing to unfair means but that is not the issue for the nation. If the EVMs are 100% tamper proof as claimed by the ECI but when all opposition parties demand clear answers, then there is something wrong somewhere. The ECI exists to conduct free and fair elections and it must be seen to be doing just that. The opposition parties have every right to demand clear answers and expect a greater transparency from the ECI. Their demands are not unconstitutional nor irrational. They insist that their demand for counting of 50% of EVMs through VVPAT is more than justified. It would have helped assuage apprehensions if the ECI had been responsive and sought to clear misgivings but by rejecting the demands, it only fuelled more misapprehensions that something was amiss. However, the issue is not about EVMs alone but the ECI under its present CEC Sunil Arora, which has consistently failed to live up to expectations and that is indeed the biggest tragedy.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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