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Congress has nothing to do with London presser on EVM hacking: Anand Sharma

He also hit out at BJP leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, saying he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are "flying high" and the "countdown of their ouster has begun"

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Congress leader Anand Sharma at World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos in 2010
File photo: Congress leader Anand Sharma

The Congress on Tuesday demanded that the Election Commission address the "very serious" issues raised at a London presser by a self-proclaimed cyber expert on the functioning of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

The opposition party, however, maintained that it had noting to do with the event, after the BJP questioned the presence of its leader Kapil Sibal there and alleged that the press conference was a"Congress-sponsored conspiracy" designed to "defame" Indian democracy and its Election Commission.

Congress senior spokesperson Anand Sharma demanded that the EC ensure that 50 per cent of VVPAT or paper trail of votes is counted randomly during Lok Sabha election to allay people's fears of alleged tampering of EVMs.

He also hit out at BJP leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, saying he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are "flying high" and the "countdown of their ouster has begun".

On Kapil Sibal's presence at the London event, Sharma said, "you should ask him instead".

Meanwhile, Sibal separately addressed the media in London claiming that he was invited by the organisers and thus attended the event. He termed the charges levelled by the "cyber expert" as "very serious", stressing that they concern the survival of democracy in India and there should be an inquiry into them.

"Various opposition parties have expressed their doubts on the functioning of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in writing to the Election Commission. The main opposition parties had demanded reverting to the paper ballot, as only four countries are left in the world which have not gone back to them," Sharma told reporters.

The former Union minister said all parties have collectively given a memorandum to the Election Commission on the issue.

Sharma said the "legitimate concern" was not addressed and the Supreme Court in turn had opined that there would be random counting of a small percentage of the VVPAT slips.

"What we are saying is at least what can be done and we remain firm on this demand that the EC must address the concerns raised by opposition parties," he said.

"There is some merit in this demand but in the interim until this issue is finally addressed, at least 50 per cent of the VVPAT slips must be randomly counted in every parliamentary constituency and not 10 per cent.

"Then only the voters can be fully assured that the process has some sanctity and credibility. It is important that the elections are not only free and fair but the voters must also believe that it is free and fair," he said.

Sharma said the demand was also raised in the Congress plenary political resolution in March last year.

Hitting out Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad for accusing the Congress of conspiring to sponsor the London event, Sharma said, "He and Modi are in an illusion and the days of their government are numbered".

"Modi ji and Ravi Shankar Prasad and this government are flying in the air. They are actually sitting in the departure lounge. The countdown of their ouster has begun and we will send them packing with the help of public support," he said.

Sharma also said that the defeat of the BJP was "imminent" and the Congress and other opposition parties will ensure their departure.

On the BJP charge that the Congress and other parties are finding alibis for their imminent defeat in Lok Sabha polls, the Congress leader said, "We hold on to our demand (of going back to ballot paper). But we do not want to allow BJP and Modi ji to understand that we fear from contesting against them.

First Published: Tue, January 22 2019. 21:05 IST