Right after the assembly election results of five crucial states were declared last month, several opposition parties, including the Congress, had alleged that there were major problems with the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) which facilitated a landslide victory for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). They claimed the EVMs were hacked or tampered with. The allegation had sparked a new debate questioning the authenticity of EVMs.
Even the general masses are now raising their voice against the cluttered vote counting procedure. More than 600 people from Vakola area in suburban Mumbai have registered an affidavit claiming that they had voted for their favourite independent candidate in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections, but it has been found that the candidate ended up getting much lesser votes that were given to him. They have claimed of vote theft and the submitted the affidavit to Bombay High Court.
The case has been raised from Ward No 88 in Vakola area of Mumbai. In the ward, 13 candidates were in the electoral battle, one of whom was an Independent candidate Nilotpal Mrinal. He bagged only 375 votes. Although the seat was won by the Shiv Sena’s candidate, but now 600 people from the area have filed an affidavit with the Bombay High Court with the photocopies of their voter ID.
The petitioner Tahir Shaikh told NDTV, “I was sitting there on the counting day. When I voted, I was very disappointed, then we decided to meet with the people of the area and decided that something was to be done so we gave the PIL.”
After losing the election, Mrinal has sought official information from the BMC, so that he can get a clarity into the matter. According to NDTV, Nilotpal said, “If I got 50-60 votes from every booth, then maybe it would have been difficult to know. But after the counting, I found that I got 4-5 votes from which more than twice as many people had affirmed me that they voted for me. The voters want to know how did this happen?”
The major areas in this ward are Aagripada, Vakola, Davari Nagar, Pratiksha Nagar, Shivaji Nagar which are all close to the western express highway.
According to the petitioner’s lawyer, Shravan Giri said, the petition has been filed. The date of hearing can come on any day. The petitioners want the court to investigate where the votes of people went?
The candidate claims that even though 600 people have given an affidavit, the number of those who voted for him is more than that. The petitioners, however, do not want to contest elections again even when the decision comes into effect. On the other hand, people complain that they could not find a councilor of their choice. The public has a petition; the court has to decide the decision.
The Supreme Court in 2013 had asked the Election Commission to introduce in a phased manner the paper trail in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, saying “it is an indispensable requirement of free, fair and transparent” polls which will restore the confidence of the voters. The apex court had directed the centre to provide financial assistance to the poll panel for the introduction of the Vote Verifier Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system with the EVMs.
Almost every other political parties have criticised EVMs but such remarks usually come to surface when they lose elections. The EC should come up with a concrete solution so that it can restore everyone’s faith in the election procedure.