New Delhi: The Election Commission on Monday vehemently rejected the sensational claims by an Indian cyber expert that electronic voting machines (EVMs) can be hacked and said that it firmly stands by “empirical facts about foolproof nature”.
The election watchdog also said that it was mulling legal action in response to the claims identified as Syed Suja at a press conference in London.
In a statement issued here, the poll panel said whereas it is “wary of becoming a party to this motivated slugfest”, it firmly stands by the “empirical facts about foolproof nature of ECI EVMs” used in elections in India.
“It is being separately examined as to what legal action can and should be taken in the matter,” the EC statement said without elaborating against whom the action was being contemplated — the person or the organiser of the event.
The Commission reiterated that the EVMs used by it are manufactured by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) under “very strict” supervisory and security conditions.
It said there are rigorous standard operating procedures “meticulously observed” at all stages under the supervision of a committee of eminent technical experts constituted in 2010.
Syed Suja, the Indian cyber expert who is seeking political asylum in the US, claimed on Monday that the 2014 general election was “rigged” through EVMs, which, he said, can be hacked.
Suja also said he fled India in 2014 because he felt threatened in the country after the killing of some of his team members.
Soon after Suja’s press conference in London, which was attended by Congress leader Kapil Sibal, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the opposition will take up with Election Commission.
Meanwhile, the BJP rejected the sensational claims by the cyber expert and described the allegation as a “hacking horror show organised” by the Congress and said that the opposition party has begun looking for an excuse for its likely defeat in the next Lok Sabha polls.
In a sharp attack on the Congress, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said its leader Kapil Sibal’s presence at the press conference in London was not a coincidence.
Naqvi alleged that top Congress leaders, including its president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi, would have sent Sibal as their “postman”.
“Electronic Voting Machines cannot be hacked. What is clear is that anti-India forces have hacked into the mind of Congress. What we have seen is a hacking horror show organised by the Congress ahead of its defeat in Lok Sabha polls. It is looking for an excuse for its impending loss,” the BJP leader told reporters.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, too, rubbished the allegations and said the insanity of the Congress is increasingly becoming contagious.
“Was the Election Commission & millions of Staffers involved in manufacturing, programming of EVMs & conduct of elections during the UPA Government in collusion with the BJP – absolutely rubbish,” Jaitley tweeted.
He said after Rafale and the “non-existent” loan waiver to 15 industrialists, “the next big lie – EVM hacking”.
“Does the Congress feel that the people are so gullible that they will swallow any garbage? Insanity in the Congress party is increasingly becoming contagious,” said the Minister, who is in the US for medical check up.
On the other hand, a defensive Congress distanced itself from the London press conference by Syed Suja, while demanding an investigation into the allegations.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said Sibal was invited by a journalist and he did not represent the Congress party at the press conference, held under the aegis of the Indian Journalists’ Association (Europe).
He said the Congress and other parties want that there should be a system in place to check 50 per cent of voter verifiable paper audit trails (VVPAT) to reassure the country on the infallibility of electronic voting machines.
“The charges made are very serious. I cannot vouch for them or deny them, as they have not been investigated. But they certainly need investigation. These should be looked into with an open mind by the Election Commission,” he told reporters.
On the BJP’s charge about the involvement of the Congress in organising the event as it was attended by Sibal, Singhvi said, “Obviously, the Congress party had nothing to do with organising the press conference and does not know the principal actors and has no role to play.”
He said Sibal has himself clarified that a journalist had invited him and he went, “but he was certainly not claiming to be representing the Congress party”.