UNCALLED FOR

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 26 Jan 2019 10:02:14

IT IS very unfortunate that some sections of politically-motivated people are still raising doubts about the credibility of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM). And each time doubts are aired and objections are raised, the Government or the Election Commission of India (ECI) put up stout denials and insist that they are not going to do away with the EVMs. It is against this background that the comment by Chief Election Commissioner Mr. Sunil Arora assumes much importance when he asserts that some people use the EVM as a football to be kicked around and some indulging in a motivated slug-fest denouncing the device. He is more than right in his observations as even the common people realise that some sections of the political community have often tried to hide behind the doubts about the EVMs’ reliability when defeat strikes them in elections.

In the past so many years the EVMs have proved to be a great boost to the efficiency of the election process. Initial doubts did prevail for some time, but were overcome soon as the nation realised their usefulness. The issue of a paper trail, too, came up and was sorted out with the help of technology. Now, there should be no doubt about the reliability of the device from all angles. Yet when some sections of the politically-driven people raise doubts, others realise that they are only trying to kick up a controversy on a non-issue.

The controversy got very dirty after the election of Mr. Narendra Modi as Prime Minister. It was Congress party that raised the doubt in every possible manner. Then came Legislative elections in a few States and Congress got elected in Punjab. That one win apart, the Congress kept losing its electoral base in a big way, and that gave the party an opportunity to keep raising doubts about the EVMs’ reliability. It was expected, however, that the doubts will die down after the recent Legislative elections in three States of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh where the BJP lost power and the Congress party won with varying margins. With this development, it was hoped that nobody would raise the issue again. Still, doubts are being raised with a clear purpose of creating mental disturbance in the minds of innocent civilians about the system’s reliability and veracity. It is because of this reason that the Election Commission has filed a complaint with the Delhi Police against the so-called cyber expert Shuja who has raised doubts in a latest overture.

Raising politically-motivated doubts to confuse people about an official system may be considered okay in politics, but it is dangerous to the nation as people in general may start questioning even a correct practice. By no standard can India afford to allow such doubting to take place on a continuous basis. This made it mandatory for the ECI to lodge a complaint with the police and ensure that an offence was registered against the culprit. When the general elections are round the bend, such an official action was utterly necessary.

The very purpose of introducing the EVMs was to eliminate any possibility of rigging the elections. This purpose has been served more than fully. It is clear that the authorities -- that is the Government and the Election Commission -- will never go back to the ballot paper mode where there was a lesser accountability and integrity. True, machines also can be manipulated to rig an election. But with appropriate safeguards, all those possibilities now stand almost totally eliminated.

At this stage, we feel duty-bound to call upon the political community not to distort realities and insert doubts in popular minds when the nation stands on the doorstep of a major electoral exercise. We urge the people in politics not to kick up controversies as regards EVMs, and face the electoral challenge in the straightforward manner -- that is campaigning hard on issues of national importance. May also there be no efforts of character assassination of important people. May these elections be held in an atmosphere of strong political rivalries that do not kick up filth without rhyme and reason. The nation wants a clean election.