New Delhi: The all-party meeting convened by the Election Commission to discuss reliability of EVMs on Friday saw a debate over the definition of 'hacking'.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which has been leading the opposition charge on this issue, claimed that its proposal of holding a 'hackathon' has been "rejected" by the Commission.
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who is among the AAP representatives in the meeting, tweeted that the EC "refused to carry out a hackathon". The Election Commission will only throw a challenge asking the parties to prove that machines used in the past elections were tampered with, he claimed.
However, there was no official word from the Election Commission on Sisodia's claims so far.
AAP MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj told reporters on the sidelines of the closed-door meeting that Election Commission shared nothing new so far towards alleviating the fears of the parties. The meeting saw a debate over the definition of "hacking".
"They won't let us access their machines and then challenge us to prove our charge of hacking. The EC is being very smart," Bhardwaj said.
Leaders of other parties like the Communist Party of India (CPI), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Rastriya Lok Dal (RLD) raised related as well as other aspects of the electoral process like corporate funding.
"The whole issue is about the ethos and integrity of the election process. Why are advanced countries in the west not using EVMs?" CPI national secretary Atul Anjan asked.
RJD spokesperson Manoj Jha said by harping on the infallibility of EVMs, the Election Commission was acting as the custodian of just the "instruments" and not the process as a whole.
At the day-long meeting, which started with the opening remarks of Chief Election Commission Nasim Zaidi, the Commission was expected to seek views of political parties on the proposed challenge it plans to throw to hack its EVMs.
The date of the proposed challenge would be decided after the all-party meeting, it was said.
All the seven national and 35 of the 48 state recognised political parties are attending the meeting. A detailed presentation on electronic voting machines' security features will be made by the EC top brass to prove that the machines are tamper-proof -- a fear raised by the opposition parties.
Days before the meet, the Aam Admi Party had staged a demonstration on hacking voting machine' in the Delhi Assembly. The party had used an EVM prototype to make the demonstration.
The EC had trashed the AAP's claim, saying the 'machine is a look-alike and not the ECI-EVM'.
Some parties have demanded they be allowed access to the machines used in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls.
Sixteen opposition parties had recently told the Commission that it should revert to the paper ballot system claiming that the faith of the people has "eroded" in the machines.
Several parties, including AAP, BSP and Congress had blamed tampered machines for the victory of BJP in the recently-held assembly polls.
Disqualifying candidates named in a charge sheet for bribing voters, making electoral graft a non-bailable offence and easing of rules to order counting of votes through paper trail are some of the other issues Election Commission will discuss with political parties tomorrow.
"The Election Commission has convened a meeting with all recognised national and state political parties on May 12 in New Delhi to discuss issue related to EVM and VVPAT.
"In addition to the EVM/VVPAT, the agenda will also cover making bribery in elections a cognisable offence, disqualification on framing of charges for the offences of bribery in elections and suggestions in VVPAT recount rules," it had said in a statement last week.
Updated Date: May 12, 2017 16:58 PM