Quoting Elon Musk's comments Rahul, Akhilesh question credibility of EVMs

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said EVMs in India are a "black box" which nobody is allowed to scrutinise and quoted a post by Tesla CEO Elon Musk on X in which Musk talked about eliminating EVMs.
Quoting Elon Musk's comments Rahul, Akhilesh question credibility of EVMs

New Delhi/Lucknow | Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday said EVMs in India are a "black box" which nobody is allowed to scrutinise, and asserted that "serious concerns" are being raised about transparency in the country's electoral process.

Congress' ally and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav also questioned credibility of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and demanded that all future elections should be conducted through ballot papers.

"Democracy ends up becoming a sham and prone to fraud when institutions lack accountability," Gandhi said in a post on X and tagged a media report which claimed that a relative of Shiv Sena's candidate, who won the polls from Mumbai's North-West seat by 48 votes, had a phone that unlocks an EVM.

The former Congress president also tagged a post by Tesla CEO Elon Musk in which he talked about eliminating EVMs.

"We should eliminate electronic voting machines. The risk of being hacked by humans or AI, while small, is still too high," Musk had said in his recent post.

However, former Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar countered Musk's criticism of EVMs and said that the billionaire businessman's view may apply to US and other places where they use regular compute platforms to build "Internet connected voting machines".

"But Indian EVMs are custom designed, secure and isolated from any network or media - No connectivity, no bluetooth, wifi, Internet. ie there is no way in. Factory programmed controllers that cannot be reprogrammed," Chandrasekhar said in a post on X.

"Electronic voting machines can be architected and built right as India has done. We would be happy to run a tutorial Elon," the BJP leader added.

BJP's IT department head Amit Malviya said Musk or whoever else thinks they can hack the EVM should approach the Election Commission of India and take a shot at it.

He also took a swipe at Rahul Gandhi after the Congress leader raised Musk's comments to flag "concerns" about electoral process.

Malviya said, "But why is Rahul Gandhi complaining about Indian democracy to Musk? What can Musk do? Or is crying before the world and demeaning India part of Congress's DNA? We just had an election and people of India rejected this dynast for a third time in row. But he still does not get it."

In a post on X in Hindi, SP chief Yadav said, "Technology is meant to solve problems, if it becomes the cause of problems then its use should be stopped."

Targeting the BJP over the issue, Yadav said, "Today, when fears of EVM tampering are being expressed in many elections of the world and the world's renowned technology experts are openly writing about the danger of EVM tampering, then what is the reason behind the insistence on using EVM, BJP should clarify this."

Yadav also tagged the Musk's post and reiterated his party's demand that all future elections be conducted using ballot papers.

The opposition parties have been raising concerns over EVMs for some time now and had demanded a 100 per cent count of the VVPAT slips which was not allowed.

EVM fully safe, says official; Cong leader Chavan seeks stay on Mumbai North West poll result

Mumbai | A poll official on Sunday said an EVM was a standalone system with "robust administrative safeguards" to protect it from any kind of manipulation and that there was no need of an OTP to unlock it.

Vandana Suryavanshi, returning officer of Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency, was reacting to a report in Mid-day newspaper about a kin of Ravindra Waikar, the Shiv Sena candidate who emerged victorious there by a wafer thin margin of 48 votes, using a mobile phone connected to an EVM during vote counting on June 4.

"The EVM is a standalone system and there is no need for an OTP to unlock it. It is not programmable and has no wireless communication capabilities. It is a complete lie being spread by a newspaper. We have issued notice to Mid-day newspaper under sections 499, 505 of the Indian Penal Code for defamation and spreading false news," Suryavanshi said in a press conference on Sunday.

As per Vanrai police, Mangesh Pandilkar, brother-in-law of Waikar, was booked under Indian Penal Code section 188 (disobeying official order) on Wednesday for allegedly using a mobile phone at a counting centre in Goregaon on June 4, when results of the general elections were announced.

Speaking at the press conference, Suryavanshi said the personal mobile phone of one Dinesh Gurav, the data entry operator of Jogeshwari assembly constituency, was found in the hands of an unauthorised person and action is being taken in this regard.

"Data entry and vote counting are two different aspects. An OTP enables the ARO to open the encore login system for data entry. The counting process is independent and has nothing to do with unauthorised use of mobile phone, which is an unfortunate incident and is being probed," Suryavanshi added.

"Advance technical features and robust administrative safeguards are in place to rule out any possibility of manipulation. Safeguards include conducting everything in the presence of candidates or their agents," she said.

The official said neither Waikar or losing candidate Amol Kirtikar of the Shiv Sena (UBT) had sought a recount but verification of invalid postal ballots was demanded and it was done.

"The counting ETPBS (electronically transmitted postal ballot system) happens in physical form (postal ballots) and not electronically as is being spread as part of a false narrative. Every counting sheet at every table for ETPBS, EVM and postal ballot counting (including ETPBS) is signed by counting agents after due diligence," Suryavanshi asserted.

Suryavanshi said CCTV footage in connection with the issue cannot be given unless there are orders from the competent court.

Meanwhile, senior Congress leader and former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said the poll result of Mumbai North West Lok Sabha seat must be stayed.

The Election Commission of India must call a meeting of all parties and discuss this issue thoroughly, he demanded.

"There must be a probe into the unauthorised used of the mobile phone. The FIR report has not been made public," Chavan said.

Is EVM under a cloud because my party candidate Waikar won: CM Shinde

Mumbai | Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Sunday wondered if doubts were being raised over EVM’s sanctity in connection with the Mumbai North West constituency only because the winner belongs to his party Shiv Sena.

He was responding to a question tied to a report about a relative of Sena’s Ravindra Waikar, who defeated Shiv Sena (UBT)’s Amol Kirtikar by just 48 seats from the seat, using a mobile phone linked to an EVM during vote counting on June 4.

“Why are questions being raised about the outcome of only Mumbai North West constituency and not any other result in the state? Is it because my candidate, Waikar, won and theirs lost,” Shinde asked.

As per the rules, the use of mobile phones is restricted at counting centres.

Shinde said people’s mandate favoured Waikar.

The CM also sought to compare his party's performance with that of rival Sena (UBT). He said his party won seven of the 15 seats it contested with a “strike rate of 48 per cent”. Sena (UBT), which won nine of the 21 seats it contested, had a “strike rate of 42 per cent”, he said.

Shinde claimed that his party bagged two lakh more votes than the candidates of the opposition bloc Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), of which Sena (UBT) is a part, in Mumbai.

Meanwhile, Vandana Suryavanshi, returning officer of Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency, refuted the report saying EVM was a standalone system with "robust administrative safeguards" to protect it from any kind of manipulation and that there was no need for an OTP to unlock it.

“It is not programmable and has no wireless communication capabilities. It is a complete lie being spread by a newspaper. We have issued notice to mid-day newspaper under sections 499, 505 of the Indian Penal Code for defamation and spreading false news,” Suryavanshi said in a press conference on Sunday.

As per Vanrai police in the city, Waikar’s brother-in-law Mangesh Pandilkar was booked on Wednesday under IPC section 188 (disobeying official order) for allegedly using a mobile phone at a counting centre in Goregaon on June 4, when results of the general elections were announced.

Speaking at the press conference, Suryavanshi said the personal mobile phone of one Dinesh Gurav, the data entry operator of Jogeshwari assembly constituency, was found in the hands of an unauthorised person and action is being taken in this regard.

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