| 14 Jun 2017
| Onkareshwar Pandey, Editor In Chief, NOP



You might have marked the funnies of pigmy-sized jokers in circus. I still relish one. While a giant-sized weight-lifter, prior to perform, remained engaged in warm-up exercises, a little, dedhfutia clown sneaked into arena, laid his angochha (stole) on the barbell, exerted few push-ups, and then stepped like a lion and bent over barbell with confidence spilling all around, as if he would throw barbell far off. Just hold your breath! Oh no! the dedhfutia ditched, picked angochha, took a turnabout and raced back to the pavilion.

The politicians, who ranted about maneuvering of the recent election outcomes, preferred to dodge Election Commission's challenge to prove tampering of EVMs scheduled on 3rd June. This jogged my mind to revive the circus-scene before my eyes, but with this contrariety that the act of the circus-clowns caused us to chuckle, while trickery of our Netas has acidic effect.

Some party bosses found escape goat in EVMs for their disgracing defeat in UP Assembly and Dilli Municipal elections. The defeat instigated relentless ruckus in their outfits. Not only deprived foot-workers, privileged commanders too started searching exit doors. Everyone craved for reliable roof. BJP offered greener grazing ground. After being completely mopped out of the Lok Sabha in 2014, BSP was again cursed to meet its waterloo in the UP Assembly election. Constrained with only 19 seats in the UP Assembly, it became herculean task for Behanji to keep her political fiefdom at bay from disintegration. In such a hard time Mayawati thought to let off a squib that "votes favouring BSP were counted for BJP by way of tampering EVMs". Arvind Kejriwal, suffering confidence-crisis caused due to his sweet dreams being shattered one after another as Punjab and Goa Assembly and Dilli Municipal elections ditched his sky-scratching ambitions, dashed to pounce upon this excuse for a face-lift to his smashed acceptance among the voters. EVMs tampering accusation fabricated by Mayawati fed ammunition to the AAP leader to salvo at both BJP and Election Commission (EC). The Congress too, performing bad to worse during elections since 2014, found it suitable; though it hesitated to fight from front. Rather Congress stalwarts preferred to blow both hot and cold in the same breath on this issue.

The tragedy is that all political parties are cut of the same cloth. No one can claim innocence. The BJP raised the same alarm, when failed to hit the goal; blamed the UPA for maneuvering election results by taming the EVMs; but with this difference that when EC repudiated its claim, BJP leaders didn't overstretch the dispute. This time also EC categorically denied tampering, but accusers failed to relent. Ultimately, the EC challenged the skeptics to come and tamper the EVMs on 3rd June. Only NCP and CPM appeared, that too with the caveat that their concern is only academic. CPM representative, IT expert Bappa Aditya, after one hour interaction with technical experts of the EC expressed his satisfaction. But the Rajya Sabha member Vandana Chauhan, representing NCP appeared a bit hard nut. She still harboured suspicion.

Politicians, generally, prefer to stick to their party's predetermined positions instead of buying factual truth. Anyway, she felt consoled to learn that EC is prepared to use paper trail machines in all elections ahead. AAP leaders, who boycotted the EC event, announced a parallel EVM challenge without mentioning date and venue. A similar demo was carried on 9th May also in Dilli Assembly where AAP MLA Er. Saurabh Bhardwaj used a so called prototype machine for maneuvering the votes in favour of other candidate than the intended one by the voter. The EC, in view of untested quality of the machine, disapproved reliability of the AAP-show. Constitutional experts denounced AAP's move painting it as misuse of the privilege committed to the legislative bodies by the Indian Constitution. According to few experts, had this so called demo been exercised not inside the privileged precincts, entire team would have faced heat of stringent legal action.

Hue and cry by the skeptics over EVMs' tampering carries little weight in view of the fact that almost all recent election-outcomes including that of UP Assembly and Dilli Municipal Bodies were in tune with the exit poll-results. We know, exit polls don't use EVMs. Commander of the Congress team in Punjab, Capt. Amrender Singh also denied the charge of EVM-tampering in recent Punjab Assembly election. More than hundred complains regarding rigging of EVMs in recent elections were lodged at the door of the EC, but not a single was equipped with solid supporting evidence.

The habitude of crying foul without clinching evidence on defeat must be discouraged as, in addition to giving a bad taste, it desultorily discredits our election mechanism, in turn, causing unreparable damage to the health of our democracy. The blame-game between political parties is a common phenomenon.

Hitting below the belt is preferred practice among our politicians. But their penchant to drag the constitutional institutions in their filthy squabbles bears the risk of playing with fire.

We shouldn't let integrity of institutions be compromised to feed false vanity of few of our Hounarables, otherwise our system, sooner or later, will have to pay through the nose. Perhaps keeping all such concerns into consideration the Chief Election Commissioner has knocked door of the Union Government just few days back for inclusion of some teeth in their kit of authority for taking such baseless blame-game-players to task. The CEC, in view of a recent ruling by the Uttarakhand High Court, called upon again the skeptic-band, to desist from casting unfounded allegations against EVMs failing which warned of stringent legal action. The Uttarakhand HC, while rejecting a petition by a Congress office-bearer for stay of EC's event dated 3rd June, ruled that the Election Commission of India is a Constitutional Body, and no political party can raise question regarding its integrity and credibility.

Democracy is decidedly the best form of governance run through peoples' participation ensured through regular elections. Elections must be, and look also free, fair and transparent. For making the democracy sustainably prospering and flourishing, both ruling and opposition parties are obligated to discharge duties on their part with grace and dignity. Had the Union Government made budgetary provision earlier for use of paper trail machines, the unfortunate controversy could have been nipped before birth. Thanks God! A soothing piece of news is pouring in that further elections will have paper trail machines attached to the EVMs.

Writer Umesh Kumar is Author, Film Maker and also a TV Panelist.

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