As the world’s biggest elections comes to an end with results continuing to come in, one of the issues likely to be brought up going forward will be the integrity of the Election Commission of India (ECI).
Over the six weeks of polling, the ECI has been repeatedly accused of bias by the main opposition Congress and other parties.
On Monday, former President Pranab Mukherjee released a statement on Twitter, expressing his concern over reports of alleged tampering of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
“The safety and security of EVMs which are in the custody of the ECI is the responsibility of the Commission,” he said in the statement.
“There can be no room for speculations that challenge the very basis of our democracy. People’s mandate is sacrosanct and has to be above any iota of reasonable doubt.”
Mukherjee’s statement comes after a video was posted on Twitter on Monday allegedly showing EVMs being transported without security in Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state which sends 80 parliamentarians to the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the ECI said, the “Election Commission of India would like to emphatically and unambiguously clarify that all such reports and allegations are absolutely false, and factually incorrect. The visuals seen viral on media do not pertain to any EVMs used during the polls.”
“After the close of polls, all polled EVMs and VVPATs are brought under security cover to the designated strongrooms, which is sealed with double locks, in the presence of the candidates and in the presence of Observers of the Election Commission.”
The statement added that the entire process is filmed and monitored by CCTV with 24 hours security provided by the Central Armed Police Forces.
On the same day, a delegation of 21 opposition parties led by Andhra Pradesh chief minister and head of the Telugu Desam Party, Chandrababu Naidu, met with the ECI to discuss their concerns.
The delegation included representatives from the main opposition Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Trinamool Congress of West Bengal, and others.
They demanded that results from the EVMs be matched with the paper trail machine slips — called Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) — a process that could have delayed the results by days.
India’s Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a Public Interest Litigation seeking 100% matching of paper trail slips with the EVMs, according to CNN affiliate CNN News18.