New Delhi, May 12
The Election Commission (EC) has rejected the Congress’ claim that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) used in the May 10 Karnataka assembly polls were previously deployed in South Africa and asked the party to bring to justice “rumour-mongers” who targeted it with false information.
In a letter addressed to Randeep Singh Surjewala, the AICC in-charge of Karnataka, the EC said it had used new EVMs manufactured by Electronics Corporation of India Limited for the polls in the southern state.
The Congress had written to the poll panel on May 8, raising concerns and seeking clarification over the deployment in the Karnataka election of EVMs previously deployed in South Africa and that too, without going through the process of revalidation and re-verification.
“The concern arises from the fact that this Honorable Commission has deployed EVMs which were previously deployed for elections in South Africa. We have been informed of this by various sources including the fact all these EVMs have been received directly back from South Africa without going through the process of re-validation and re-verification by the appropriate software/mechanisms by the manufacturer i.e. ECIL as also certification by the EC. This puts in serious doubt the entire validation process of the EVM itself,” Surjewala had said.
Citing records, the poll panel said the Congress had specific knowledge that only newly ECIL-produced EVMs would be used in Karnataka. It said Congress representatives participated in each stage of EVM movement and commissioning for the Karnataka polls.
The poll panel asserted it never sent EVMs to South Africa. It also said the fact that EVMs are not used in elections in that country is easily verifiable through the website of Electoral Commission of South Africa.
“As such, there is no question of any machine being used by the EC in Karnataka Legislative Assembly election which had or could have been used in South Africa elections or for that matter anywhere in the world.
“All EVMs to be used in Karnataka elections, 2023 are new EVMs from ECIL.This fact is in full knowledge of INC,” the poll panel said.
\ “The EC never imported EVMs from any country whatsoever,” the poll panel wrote.
It told Surjewala that such a query raised by a Member of Parliament of “your standing” was surprising as the actual information was in specific knowledge of his party.
The Election Commission said while it is duty-bound to reply to all questions of an MP representing a national political party, “it has noted with concern that INC has chosen to rely on “sources’ and even considered seeking a “clarification”, just two days before the poll.
The EC noted that it held back an immediate reply keeping in mind the 46-hour ‘silence period’ which began at 6 pm on May 8 and ended on Wednesday evening.
“The factual basis of the information provided by the “various sources” with regard to South Africa being clearly non-existent, categorically empower INC, being the entity targeted by the false information, to publicly expose such mischievous sources.
“Further, you may ensure such rumour-mongers are brought to justice, so that INC’s longstanding reputation of a responsible stakeholder of Indian electoral system is not dented,” the EC letter read.
The Commission said it expects to receive a confirmation of the action taken by the party by 5:00 pm of May 15.
The counting of votes for the Karnataka polls will be taken up on May 13.