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HomeOpinionWhy opposition leaders float EVM conspiracy theories knowing they are not true

Why opposition leaders float EVM conspiracy theories knowing they are not true

Opposition leaders are forced to question EVMs for reasons beyond the obvious.

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Hamko maaloom hai jannat ki haqeeqat lekin, 
dil k
o khush rakhne ko, ‘Ghalib’ yeh khayaal achcha hai

(We all know the reality of this place called Heaven
Yet, to keep the heart feeling happy and content, the idea of Heaven is a beautiful one.)

— Mirza Ghalib

On 21 July 1993, the West Bengal unit of the Youth Congress held a protest in Kolkata, attempting to lay siege to Writers’ Building that houses the state secretariat. The protest was to demand that only those voters be allowed to vote who possessed identity cards with photos issued by the Election Commission of India. This, the Youth Congress had argued, was necessary to prevent the “scientific rigging” the Left Front government indulged in.

Police firing on the protest led to the killing of 13 people, many others were injured. Youth Congress leaders quickly surrounded their chief, giving her cover and saving her from the violence. Her name was Mamata Banerjee.

She later went on to found her own party, the Trinamool Congress, which continues to commemorate 21 July as Martyrs’ Day with a huge rally.

Also read: Those who doubt EVMs must answer these two questions

Sunday’s Martrys’ Day rally in Kolkata was also about free and fair elections. She accused the BJP of many things, including manipulation of electronic voting machines. She said, “I still believe that the results of the polls (Lok Sabha) is a mystery. We want ballot papers to be returned and not EVMs. Why are EVMs not used in countries like US, UK, France and Germany and even European countries?”

If it was really EVM manipulation that won the BJP 18 seats in West Bengal, would street fighter Mamata Banerjee limit her angst to a rally? She would have brought the rally to Delhi, run a mass agitation campaign across West Bengal, moved heaven and hell.

This is also true of every opposition party that has floated EVM conspiracy theories. If they really believed in EVM rigging, would they accept the results so easily? Mayawati regularly says the BJP has been sweeping Uttar Pradesh through EVM rigging. Arvind Kejriwal floated EVM rigging theories after losing the Punjab assembly election in 2017. The Congress party has also, at least, given lip service to the EVM conspiracy theories.

It is a very big accusation to make. If it was really true, would opposition parties be responding to it with mere press conferences and rally speeches? Nay, they’d be causing mayhem on the streets, like Mamata Banerjee did on 21 July 1993.

It is, therefore, curious why opposition leaders take to EVM conspiracy theories. Surely, it can’t be to fool the public, since it was the public who voted for the BJP. Is there anyone who can say the BJP did not make a big push for Bengal this time?

Also read: What Election Commission can do to dispel the misconception about EVMs

Top leaders of parties have various compulsions, one of which is to keep up the morale of party workers and supporters. They’re also the one most likely to believe in conspiracy theories, since they already have a partisan view of politics. If a party’s foot-soldiers lose hope, the party is over. They need to push up their enthusiasm levels for them to go around and persuade voters.

At the Sunday rally, Mamata Banerjee was telling her party workers that the Trinamool Congress didn’t lose any voters to the BJP. The people are still with us, don’t be disheartened. It’s a story that the party workers need to buy. If they don’t, they will defect to the BJP.

After Mayawati won zero seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, and just 19 of 403 seats in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly election, it is difficult to imagine the impact on her famed cadre. She had to say EVMs are rigged, just as her party also regularly tells voters the BJP will abolish reservations. When the truth is too inconvenient, you need a lie to feel better. It’s a placebo.

Also read: Mamata’s Martyrs’ Day rally – a show of strength & attempt to win back voters

The Aam Aadmi Party had fought the 2017 Punjab assembly election under Arvind Kejriwal’s direct supervision. It was an election the Aam Aadmi Party was likely to win. They lost the election to critical mistakes made by the party, and the buck should have stopped at Kejriwal’s door. Party workers in Punjab, Delhi and across India should have pointed fingers at Kejriwal. But before they could do so, he planted the seed of doubt in their minds. I’m an IIT engineer, he said, I know EVMs can be rigged.

This trick has been so successful that a very large number of people believe in EVM conspiracy theories. From senior politicians to anti-BJP voters, you can find many EVM doubters. Critically, everyone is doubtful, not fully sure—not sure enough to lose faith in elections. Ambiguity helps control anxiety.

Views are personal.

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  1. Prof PK Sharma,Freelance Journalist, Barnala (Punjab)

    Mr.Shivam Vij in his write-up ” Why opposition leaders float EVM conspiracy theories…………..” has not at all adhered to objectivity yardstick on the very burning issue in question !

    First of all, he has not dwelt on issue seriously what to talk of making even a small effort to deal with the same in this direction ?

    His use of expression” knowing they are not true” does not appear to be convincing in any way and in good taste. It is so because in our system especially during the past five years, it is indeed a Herculean task to dig out and then establish TRUTH.

    In this context, the Election Commission of India has not to face the music on alleged bungling, tampering and rigging of EVMs front alone
    but it is certainly under cloud on a number of its other partisan roles issue ! Are Mr.Ashok Lavasa, Election Commission of India’s actions of dissent pertaining to giving clean chit to BJP duo of Mr Narendra Modi and Mr.Amit Shah for alleged violation of Model Code of Conduct
    and staying away from Election Commission of India meetings for instance untrue.?

    There is no answer pertaining to alleged unauthorized and unescorted free movement of EVMs seen in three wheelers,vehicles and various public places in the nation. Who will answer about the whereabouts of alleged missing approximate twenty lakh EVMs.Then why there is a suspense and mystery over the alleged difference in the total votes polled and total votes counted in large number of Lok Sabha
    Constituencies ?

    Mr.Vij has taken things very lightly overlooking the darker side of things.

    The fact cannot be denied that so-called landslide victory cannot be deemed popular public mandate in favour of NaMo’s BJP, Even after the
    Lok Sabha Polls 2019 results, the opposition leaders have been raising their fingers and eyebrows on the fair play of these polls on the floor
    of Parliament even during the current on going seesion. Mr.Satish Mishra of BSP, Mr.Kapil Sibbal, Mr.Anand Sharma both of Congress and Mr.Sanjay Singh of AAP have raised this issue very vehemently in the current session of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha.

    If these senior leaders go on floating heresays on the floor of Parliament then why the treasury benches allow airing such falsehoods that too in Parliament ? It implies sanctity of the temple of democracy that is INDIA’s PARLIAMENT is in grave peril !

    I wonder why the Prime Minister Modi too while participating in the deliberations in Parliament did not come out clean while referring to allegations of bungling in EVMs as an insult to the electorate of the country and public mandate ? Sans any doubt, he is a master craftsman in
    soft-pedalling, covering up and evading rhetorically very sensitive and soul-searching issues !

    The EVMs issue should not be taken so lightly. The polity must conduct itself very responsibly honouring transparency, accountability
    and fair play in all streams of Indian Society. William Shakespeare’s these beautiful and universal words in his popular play “Julius Caesar ” still haunt us pertaining to doubts looming large over the integrity of the Indian Polity so far as conduct of Lok Sabha Polls-2019 are
    ” Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion.”

    Why no serious endeavours are being made to clear the mist and doubts’ theories enveloping the entire 2019 Lok Sabha Polls-2019 Conduct saga once for all ?

    Why not Caesar’s wife be above suspicion ?

    Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist
    Pom Anm Nest,Barnala (Punjab)

  2. EVM theory antagonists do not have clear answer when Congress won in MP, Rajastan and Chatisgarh. They have selective amnesia.

  3. Bjp when lost 2009 general election , bjp senior leader G Rao write a book about EVM rigging. Another BJP senior Leader Mr. Subramanium filed a PIL court in high court about by allegeding that congress has manipulated 50 seats with the help of EVM Rigging. We must look in this also. Till May 2014 BJP leader also blamed congress for EVM rigging

  4. As a general rule, I do not believe in conspiracy theories. However, when it comes to EVMs, it would be unfair to dismiss doubts out of hand. How would restoration of paper ballots help the Opposition. There are several advanced countries that have moved away from EVMs, back to paper. VVPAT machines have been ordered at great cost. It makes no sense to restrict their use to just five per Assembly constituency, let it be a much larger number. Appearances do matter in a democracy. When the ECI is seen as so openly partisan, as are other institutions connected with the election process, citizens can begin to feel a little uneasy. It is in everyone’s interest to allay such fears, not mock them.

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