Govt: EVMs are not faulty, Oppn must accept poll defeat

Aparna Parekh
Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Law Minister in the Rajya Sabha.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Law Minister in the Rajya Sabha.

On Thursday, the government replied to the short duration debate on electoral reforms in the Rajya Sabha, accusing the Opposition of alleging (Electronic Voting Machine) EVM tampering, only because it faced a big loss the recent Assembly elections in five states.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad justified BJP’s mammoth win in Uttar Pradesh, while making a case for accurate voting through the EVMs.

“When you (Opposition) lose, you call the EVMs faulty…but when we lost the Bihar state polls, we respected the voters’ decision and did not accuse the winners of tampering EVMs,” taunted the minister in the House.

Hitting out at the Opposition, Prasad added, “The debate was more their loss in Uttar Pradesh than electoral reforms…People have put their faith in us and you should respect it.”

Prasad also argued that no one questioned the BJP’s majority in Assam in 2016, but raised doubts about the voting process only after the party won a huge majority in UP.

He went on to give reasons for BJP’s win in the states, especially UP and then explained how more and more people were coming into the BJP fold because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP’s idea of development for the country.

On Wednesday, BSP’s Satish Chandra Misra had accused the BJP of hacking EVMs.

“Studies have shown that any electronic machines can be hacked,” Misra said while daring the BJP to hold polls in UP again.

Leader of the Opposition, Ghulam Nabi Azad had also alleged tampering.

“It is due to these machines that you got 325 seats instead of 100 seats…,” he had said targeting the ruling BJP.

Addressing these allegations, the Law Minister made a case for the EVMs over ballot paper voting. He said that the capturing of booths during voting had drastically come down over the years only because of the EVMs.

He then went on to read observations made be several High Courts that declared the allegations of faulty EVMs as “unfunded.”

“EVM is a national pride,” announced Prasad while reading out an observation made in one of the court judgements.

He also made a case for EVMs by listing out the countries that used EVMs for voting.

“France, Belgium, Argentina, Venezuela, Portugal, Bhutan, Philippines and Brazil,” all use EVMs.

Before ending his reply, Prasad also spoke about ‘paid news’ during elections, a concern raised by several MPs on Wednesday.

The Law Minister said the government supports freedom of press and it believes that there should be a debate on this issue as recommended by the EC.

As soon as Ravi Shankar Prasad’s reply ended, members of the Congress, SP, BSP and the Left staged a walkout, expressing dissatisfaction over the his reply.