Post-Indian Polls: All about EC and EVM

Nadeem Qadir from New Delhi

Nadeem Qadir from New Delhi

22 May, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Two days after the world’s greatest democratic exercise in which 90 million people voted, there have been complains and war of words over the role of the Election Commission and the EVMs and VVPAT used in the polls, almost giving a taste of what one sees in Bangladesh’s post-poll situations.

Despite the parleys behind the scenes on both political camps to form the next government, subject to the announcement of the official results on May 23, even former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee expressed his concern about the confusion and allegations of malpractices in use of EVM machines for voting.

The Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is a machine which gives a method to provide feedback to voters.

“The Election Commission must put all speculations to rest,” he told a book launching ceremony in here. The President who carries a huge place of respect among the Indians, added that the country’s institutions should not be put into question.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah has been holding their round of meetings with the council of ministers and other leaders confident of being sworn in again later this month as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rubbished all the allegations of vote trampling. Adil Singh Boparia, a Congress spokesman, said “EC (Election Commission) has lost the confident people had in it to a great extent.” He added that the poll boss must answer all the questions raised about the polls being trampled in favour of the BJP.

Amit Shah also hosted a dinner for the allies in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.

N. Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, flew to Kolkata where he had crucial talks with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has dumped the exit polls giving a landslide to Modi.

Congress President Rahul Gabdhi, his mother Sonia Gandhi along with 21 other party leaders held talks with the Election bosses and put forward their concerns over vote trampling and that, if proved, there must be a recount at least in the areas of concern.

One BJP spokeswoman, Mamta Kali laughed at the opposition allegations saying “They are complaining as they stand to lose ... they should wait until May 23.”

The Election Commission meanwhile threw out opposition allegation of vote trampling as “frivolous and baseless.”

“This was also a tough election for EC......  A crisis of sorts was created when one of the members of the Commission, Ashok Lavas, decided to step aside from EC meetings because his dissent was not being recorded,” said the editorial of the Hindustan Times on Tuesday.

It went on to say that “It is clear that the EC was unprepared for the political joust that this election turned out to be. It will be appropriate if it reviews its own performance and comes out with an honest self-appraisal. Perhaps the poll body needs to be beef up its capacity to deal with the increasing number of complaints. 

Political observers here said that whoever won eventually ion May 23, the voting has been overshadowed by allegations of vote rigging and biases unprecedented in the country’s history.

The exit polls have been blamed for creating this post-poll situation over the voting and the Election Commission.

Joyeta Bhattacharjee, Senior Fellow with the Observer Research Foundation told this correspondent that “what was happening were little exaggerated” and that the electorate were moving to the “centre.” She said women have widely voted for Modi along with under 22 youths and thus the premier got a very good result.

Asked about the issue of secularism being undermined with Modi’s Hindutya alleged by the opposition, Bhattachrjee said “it was a basic foundation of India and I do not feel much affect on that front.”

Shekhar Kumar, a 25-year-old student said “people must not question the integrity of the Election Commission and standard procedures should settle these allegations of malpractices if at all they are proven correct.”

“In general such incidents are not uncommon in elections .... opposition always critices the ruling party,” he told this correspondent.