The close contest between the BJP and Congress in Gujarat elections, that swung like a pendulum for most part of the day, seems to have drawn curtains on the controversy revolving around Electronic Voting Machines (EVM).The Congress, which continuously questioned the impartiality of the EVMs during the run-up to Assembly polls, did not raise the issue on counting day when it saw its tally growing. The only exception was Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel, who attributed the BJP victory to EVM tampering. “I won’t greet BJP on its victory because these victories have been won through unfair means,” said Hardik. “The public of Gujarat has awakened but is required to be awakened more. That EVMs have been tampered with is a reality.”Chief Election Commissioner Achal Kumar Joti cleared the air, saying, “No EVM has been tampered. Questions raised about EVM tampering have already been answered.” He added that voting had been conducted through Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs) which enabled people to see whom they voted for. “All arrangements were made in Gujarat by the Chief Electoral Officer of the state in view of the counting,” he said.To remove all doubts of tampering, the Election Commission (EC) had ensured 100% coverage of elections through EVMs fitted with VVPAT machines.Before deciding to deploy EVMs and VVPATs in Gujarat elections, the EC had even arranged a Hackathon in which it invited all political parties to try and show if tampering was possible.Former chief election commissioner, T S Krishnamurthy, said EVMs have emerged as the “real winner” in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections, and their “bashing” should stop now. “They (EVMs) have done their job well,” Krishnamurthy said. “After all, the Congress has increased its position (in Gujarat, as compared to the last elections). Some BJP leaders have been defeated. EVMs have served their purpose.”Blaming both the Congress and the BJP for attacking EVMs at their convenience, he pleaded that the debate should now stop. To this end, Krishnamurthy referred to a book authored by BJP national spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao some years ago casting doubts on EVMs. “If they (the political parties) want to show (sic) their responsibility, they have to go to court or to an independent body of technical experts and prove it,” he said.Former chief election commissioner H.S. Brahma also said that VVPATs could not be tampered with. “I firmly believe that our EVMs and VVPATs cannot be tampered with,” he said. “This matter should be closed once and for all.EVM is a standalone machine. The question of hacking doesn’t arise.” Two other former chief election commissioners N. Gopalaswami and Naveen Chawla have also said that they believe EVMs cannot be tampered with.
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