Arvind Kejriwal suspects tampering with EVMs in Punjab

He claimed tampering with EVMs could have been done 'selectively' in significant states like Punjab

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Photo: PTI
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Photo: PTI

Electronic voting machine (EVM) tampering may have led to Aam Aadmi Party's poor showing in Punjab, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday said, alleging it could be part of a conspiracy to keep the party out of power in the state.

The AAP chief, whose party won 20 seats in the 117-member Assembly with a vote share of 24.9 per cent, claimed that around 20 to 25 per cent of its votes may have been "transferred" to the SAD-BJP coalition.

The poll result is "beyond understanding" and raises a "big question mark" on the reliability of EVMs as political pundits across the spectrum had "predicted a landslide" for AAP, he told a press conference.

His allegations came on a day BSP supremo Mayawati, who had made similar claims after her party was decimated in the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, said she will move court against the alleged tampering of EVMs and accused BJP of "murdering" democracy.

Kejriwal claimed that tampering with EVMs could have been done "selectively" in significant states like Punjab, where plans were to "keep AAP out of power". At the same time, the AAP supremo said he takes the "whole responsibility" of party's performance in the state.

He, however, did not refer to Goa where the party drew a blank.

Kejriwal demanded that the votes registered in EVMs be compared with the Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) in around 32 places in Punjab and all other four states where the the paper audit system was used.

He claimed that in some of the booths, the number of votes AAP got was even less than its volunteers deployed there, adding that it has raised suspicion of foul play.

The Delhi Chief Minister said if there is "any mismatch" between the votes polled for parties and the VVPAT then there is a need to look at another "option" to conduct polls.

"Such a move is necessary to maintain the credibility of the EVMs and people's trust on electoral processes. You cannot brush it under the carpet. There will be no democracy if people lose trust in elections," Kejriwal said.

"How did the Akalis get 30 per cent vote share when an AAP sweep was a foregone conclusion? No one said Congress will perform so well and it got a two-third majority. We suspect that 20-25 per cent of AAP votes may have been transferred to SAD-BJP through EVM tampering," he said.

He said similar suspicions have been raised after the civic polls in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, where the BJP fared exceedingly well.

Kejriwal said that before BJP's 2014 Lok Sabha victory, even some BJP leaders like LK Advani and Subramanian Swamy were not in favour of EVMs.

"Several technologically advanced countries like the US, the Netherlands and Germany have done away with the EVMs as they suspect that these machine are prone to tampering. Even the Supreme Court is of the same opinion," he said.

It was Kejriwal's first media interaction after March 11, the day the Assembly poll results were declared in five states.

Yesterday, he had written to the Delhi chief secretary directing him to approach the state election commission with the request to hold the upcoming municipal polls in Delhi using ballot papers.

"It is about the credibility of the Election Commission and the faith of people in the electoral system. We have strong prima facie evidence of foul play," he said.

Asked what explains AAP's stunning victory in 2015 polls in Delhi, Kejriwal said that it may have got to do with BJP's "over-confidence" that it would clinch a victory.

"So they may not have indulged in tampering. The same would explain the victory of JD(U)-RJD in Bihar. Even then BJP was very sure of winning the state," he said.

"Even if the EVMs can be tampered, they are doing it selectively in some states like Uttarakhand, UP and Punjab.

"If Akali and BJP would have won in Punjab, then it would have become very obvious. Their only motive was to stop the AAP and keep it out of power," he said

He also listed out some booths which had dedicated AAP volunteers, but could not even get votes that equalled their number.

"In Sujanpur Assembly constituency in Akhwana village's booth no 73, we have got only three votes, but we have seven volunteers who have been undertaking door-to-door campaigning for the past six months. These seven volunteers have 17 family members. They are now saying where have our votes gone.

"On booth no 103 in the same constituency in Gosaipur village, the party got only two votes, but has five volunteers. The 27 family members of these five volunteers are even ready to give an affidavit that they voted for AAP," he said.