Election Commission on Friday called for an all-party meeting to discuss the reliability of EVMs. The validity of electronic voting machines came under scrutiny after allegations raised by parties which lost Uttar Pradesh assembly elections held earlier this year.Â
The Election Commission called for the all-party meet on Friday morning after Aam Aadmi Party demonstrated a EVM hacking method using a dummy in a special assembly session on Tuesday. The EC has maintained that EVMs are 100 per cent safe from hacking.Â
At the day-long meeting, which started with the opening remarks of Chief Election Commission Nasim Zaidi, the Commission was expected to seek views of political parties on the proposed challenge it plans to throw to hack its EVMs.
The date of the proposed challenge would be decided after the all-party meeting, it was said.
All the seven national and 35 of the 48 state recognised political parties are attending the meeting. A detailed presentation on electronic voting machinesâ€™ security features will be made by the EC top brass to prove that the machines are tamper-proofâ€”a fear raised by the opposition parties.
During the all-party meet convened by EC on Friday, the definition of hacking itself became the debated topic.Â
Here are the highlights of the meeting:Â
#Arvind Kejriwal expresses disappointment over cancellation of hackathon
Sad that EC has backed out of hackathon.â€” Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) May 12, 2017
#All future election will be held on VVPAT: CEC Nasim Zaidi
#Speaking to media after the meeting, AAP senior leader Manish Sisodia said that there are doubts that EVMs used in recent elections in all five states could be tempered. "We can prove it by hacking EVMs used in all five elections,"Â Sisodia said.
#The meeting on the issue of EVM hacking ended at around 5:35 PM.Â
#EC to offer political parties chance to prove that EVMs used in recent polls were tampered with: CEC Nasim Zaidi in all-party meet.Â
#EC has no favourites. We maintain equidistance from all parties: Zaidi at all-party meet.
#Amid the raging debate over reliability of electronic voting machines, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan today termed the doubts raised by various parties as â€œunfoundedâ€.
He also appealed to all parties to deliberate on holding the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections simultaneously.
â€œAll the talk about EVMs is unfounded. When they got 67 seats in the assembly elections in Delhi, they did not raise any questions about its credibility,â€ Chouhan told PTI in an interview, referring to the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party.
Chouhan said BJP, at that time, had not made an issue out of EVMs, despite winning just three seats.
#The AAP, which has been leading the opposition charge on this issue, claimed that its proposal of holding a â€˜hackathonâ€™ has been â€œrejectedâ€ by the Commission.
#Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who is among the AAP representatives in the meeting, tweeted that the EC â€œrefused to carry out a hackathonâ€.
#The EC will only throw a challenge asking the parties to prove that machines used in the past elections were tampered with, he claimed. However, there was no official word from the EC on Sisodiaâ€™s claims so far.
#AAP MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj told reporters on the sidelines of the closed-door meeting that EC shared nothing new so far towards alleviating the fears of the parties. The meeting saw a debate over the definition of â€œhackingâ€.
#â€œThey wonâ€™t let us access their machines and then challenge us to prove our charge of hacking. The EC is being very smart,â€ Bhardwaj said.
#Leaders of other parties like the CPI, RJD and RLD raised related as well as other aspects of the electoral process like corporate funding.
#â€œThe whole issue is about the ethos and integrity of the election process. Why are advanced countries in the west not using EVMs?â€ CPI national secretary Atul Anjan asked.
#RJD spokesperson Manoj Jha said by harping on the infallibility of EVMs, the EC was acting as the custodian of just the â€œinstrumentsâ€ and not the process as a whole.
Allegations of EVM hack
Days before the meet, the Aam Admi Party had staged a demonstration on hacking voting machineâ€™ in the Delhi Assembly. The party had used an EVM prototype to make the demonstration.
The EC had trashed the AAPâ€™s claim, saying the â€˜machine is a look-alike and not the ECI-EVMâ€™.
Some parties have demanded they be allowed access to the machines used in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls.
Sixteen opposition parties had recently told the Commission that it should revert to the paper ballot system claiming that the faith of the people has â€œerodedâ€ in the machines.
Several parties, including AAP, BSP and Congress had blamed tampered machines for the victory of BJP in the recently-held assembly polls.
Disqualifying candidates named in a charge sheet for bribing voters, making electoral graft a non-bailable offence and easing of rules to order counting of votes through paper trail are some of the other issues Election Commission will discuss with political parties on Saturday.
â€œThe Election Commission has convened a meeting with all recognised national and state political parties on May 12 in New Delhi to discuss issue related to EVM and VVPAT.
â€œIn addition to the EVM/VVPAT, the agenda will also cover making bribery in elections a cognisable offence, disqualification on framing of charges for the offences of bribery in elections and suggestions in VVPAT recount rules,â€ it had said in a statement last week.