BSP supremo Mayawati might have gone silent over her allegations that BJP won Uttar Pradesh elections due to EVM (Electronic Voting Machine) tampering, but AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal is in no mood to accept defeat and move on.
Starting around last midnight, Kejriwal and his team are working overtime to spread a news that an EVM, equipped with VVPAT (voter verified paper audit trail) system, had been registering votes in favour of BJP regardless of the button one pressed on the machine.
VVPAT is a system where the machine prints a paper slip after a voter presses the button on EVM. The voter physically verifies if the paper slip has the name and symbol of the same party (and candidate) he voted for. The slip then drops in a box (ballot box or drop box) which can be counted if EVM numbers are disputed. This system is being planned to be used more and more in upcoming elections. If a voter claims that wrong slip was printed, he or she can sign a declaration saying so at the polling booth. (this paragraph was updated to make VVPAT functioning clearer)
By the time of writing this report, Kejriwal had tweeted and re-tweeted at least 15 times, referring to the same incident of VVPAT EVM voting in favour of BJP, which allegedly happened in Bhind region of Madhya Pradesh where a bye-election to an assembly seat is scheduled to take place.
Here is one sample tweet by Kejriwal:
Do see this video. Do elections have any meaning left? https://t.co/ihl0abOfK1
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) March 31, 2017
The video shared by Kejriwal is of a ‘news report’ by a TV channel called Samay, where it is being alleged that the EVM printed slips in favour of ‘lotus’ (BJP) and the Chief Electoral Officer of Madhya Pradesh “warned” the journalists not to report about it.
Various tweets referring to the same incident has by now been shared by various leaders of AAP, including Deputy CM of Delhi Manish Sisodia, and by many AAP supporters who are claiming this to be the ultimate proof that EVMs are tampered with. Some of these tweets were re-tweeted by Kejriwal to convince everyone about the veracity of the report and claims.
Kejriwal also shared a “video proof” by re-tweeting the following tweet by a journalist, who for all practical purposes acts like an AAP worker:
1st and biggest evidence of EVM fraud surfaced in MP, chief election officer herself nailed it. pic.twitter.com/snJuKqPn1T
— ASHUTOSH MISHRA (@ashu3page) April 1, 2017
If one looks at the video shared by the so-called journalist, one can clearly see that the Chief Electoral Officer is jokingly warning the journalists. It is only expected of her, as allegations of EVM tampering have been reduced to a joke by likes of Kejriwal. Her mock warning was twisted as real warning, as if to hide some “scam”, by some journalists and political parties.
Intrigued by such claims, we decided to take a look at various sources to ascertain what exactly had happened, and this is what we found:
- The Chief Electoral Officer of Madhya Pradesh, Saleena Singh, was inspecting the EVM in presence of journalists and representatives of political parties ahead of the assembly by-election.
- When she pressed button no. 4 to check the machine, the VVPAT printed a slip that showed that the vote had been registered in favour of BJP.
- This led to everyone’s amusement in wake of all the allegations of EVM tampering in favour of BJP. Saleena Singh then used this occasion to warn the journalists in jest, and the video clearly shows everyone is laughing.
- As it was the case, button number 4 was assigned to BJP and Ms Singh coincidentally happened to press that first.
- Ms Singh then proceeded to press other buttons, and the associated VVPAT prints showed names and symbols of other parties, which is how it should be.
However, Bhaskar and Patrika had misleading headlines. A print report in Bhaskar even claimed that ‘lotus’ came out twice after pressing different buttons in succession. A clipping of the same report is being shared by many AAP and Congress supporters, but the report on their website confirms that the second button returned slip in favour of a non-BJP party. The report also confirms that the Chief Electoral Officer was ‘threatening’ the media in jest, yet their headline makes it appear as if she was serious while threatening.
UPDATE: After our report, Bhaskar changed their online report (unfortunately we didn’t take a screenshot) to propagate the theory being spread by AAP and Congress supporters. Their misleading report is now being treated as source for similar reports by other media organisations, while ignoring other reports that contradict this version. Following are the screenshots of the Nai Duniya and Patrika reports respectively, which confirms that different buttons returned different party symbols (screenshots are being uploaded just in case those reports are also changed, although they have not been changed till 4.30 PM today):
UPDATE 2: One of our readers on Twitter had taken the screenshot of the original Dainik Bhaskar report, and one can see how they changed their own report to support the claims of Kejriwal. The original report had said that symbol of another political party came out when the EVM button was pressed for the second time:
— ⚪S G⚪ (@ShrrinG) April 1, 2017
As it appears, the Congress members started crying foul the moment first vote coincidentally showed BJP. The subsequent votes, which showed that the EVM was working correctly, were not only ignored by the Congress party, but even by some sections of the media, who twisted the entire episode and the light-hearted behaviour of the Chief Electoral Officer to create a controversy.
What was started by Congress and sarcasm-challenged cum fact-free media, was then picked up online by AAP supporters, and finally by AAP supremo himself. As you read this report, AAP is working full time spreading the above misinformation on social media and elsewhere.
Unfortunately, the hunger for power in some leaders have gone to an extent where they now don’t care for facts or nuances and would do anything to create unrest and weaken people’s faith in democratic processes and institutions.