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Unthinking Distrust


The Congress opposition to the proposal by the Election Commission on using technology to include migrant populations in the voting process indicates a fundamental disconnect from the ground reality, which even the Bharat Jodo Yatra does not seem to have cured. This follows upon its distrust of the Electronic Voting Machine, which has revolutionised the electoral system in the country. As one of India’s two major parties, it should realise that the use of ballot boxes under the old system hurt its prospects as much as it would the present dominant party, as it made it easy for locally dominant groups to deny minorities and the weaker sections their voting rights. It is now far more difficult to rig elections, if not impossible, with the EVM and VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail).

The Congress, along with other parties, challenges the neutrality of the Election Commission and claims that the EVMs can be manipulated by it in favour of the ruling party. If that were the case, it is much easier to do so with ballot boxes. Also, the conduct of a general election in India requires over five million government employees, most of whom would require to be involved in the cheating process. It would be impossible to do so without giving away the game. Each EVM is a standalone unit that is not connected to any network in any way for manipulation purposes (despite many claims, no one has been able to prove otherwise).

It is the parties’ unwillingness to face the reality of being rejected by the electorate that lies behind this attitude, even though they are most comfortable with EVM verdicts in their favour. It is this prejudiced mindset that has led the Congress to reject the EC’s new proposal even before the presentation is made on the equipment and technology involved. The example of western countries is given to claim that ballot boxes cannot be replaced, which reveals the inherent inferiority complex that believes Indians cannot be leaders in anything. This is despite the fact that democracy functions very well in India despite the enormous challenges it faces of many kinds.

It needs to be understood that the average thirty percent of the electorate that ends up not voting for reasons like being in another district, state or country, among others, queers the eventual result. The opinion of such people is just as necessary to get a fair and representative verdict. Who knows, the Congress and others might actually benefit from their inclusion.