New Delhi: Former President of India Pranab Mukherjee has raised concerns about alleged EVM tampering and said “there can be no room for speculations that challenge the very basis of a democracy”.
“I am concerned at reports of alleged tampering of voter’s verdict. The safety and security of the EVMs, which are in the custody of ECI, is the responsibility of the commission. There can be no room for speculations that challenge the very basis of a democracy. People’s mandate is sacrosanct and has to be above any iota of reasonable doubt,” the former President wrote in a statement.
The former President’s statement comes just a day after he lauded the role of the poll panel, saying the 2019 Lok Sabha polls were conducted "perfectly". "If democracy has succeeded, it is largely due to perfect conduct of elections by election commissioners starting from Sukumar Sen to the present election commissioners," Mukherjee said at a book launch on Monday.
Earlier in the day, the Election Commission had issued a statement rubbishing allegations of EVM tampering by several opposition parties across the country.
The EC said EVMs and VVPATs were sealed properly in front of candidates of political parties and the process was videographed. They also assured that CCTV cameras had been installed in sensitive locations.
However, Mukherjee said as a “firm believer in our institutions”, it was in his considered opinion that “it is the workman who decide how the institutional tools perform”.
Amid allegations of EVMs being changed and majority of exit polls projecting a win for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the SP-BSP and Congress in Uttar Pradesh have issued advisories to their workers to guard the strong rooms where the EVMs are stored and also match the numbers of EVMs on May 23, counting day. The workers, who will be on duty at the counting centre, have further been asked to match the number of votes polled and the number of votes counted.
An advisory issued on Monday by Samajwadi Party’s state chief Naresh Uttam Patel asked workers to guard the strong rooms in shifts of eight hours each. It also asked to recruit experienced counting agents along with ace lawyers, who should be present on the counting spot till the process is completed.
The Bahujan Samaj Party has also asked its workers to guard the strong rooms and to match the EVM numbers so that they can’t be changed at the time of counting. The advisory further asks workers to ensure that the green paper seal and the special tag are same and only then the permission should be given to open the EVM for counting.
AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi has also sent out a voice message asking workers not to get demoralised by exit polls and rumours. “My dear Congress workers don’t lose heart because of Exit Polls and rumours, such things are spread to demoralize you. You should be more alert now, stay firm outside the strong rooms and at the counting centres. We have a firm belief that our hard work will not go waste.”
Earlier in Ghazipur district, SP-BSP alliance candidate Afzal Ansari sat on a ‘dharna’ (protest) and alleged that the administration was trying to change the EVMs. Ansari also demanded that at least two BSP workers must be issued passes to sit near the premises where EVMs were kept in strong rooms at five different places. “We doubt that administration may get the EVMs changed at the behest of the BJP government. We are staging a protest at Jangipur Mandi until our demands are met by the district administration and we are assured about the safety of the EVMs. We will not go anywhere and will guard the EVMs by ourself.”