Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj created quite a ripple in political circles across India when he claimed to demonstrate how an electronic voting machine (EVM) can be hacked. However, serious doubts are being raised over the entire demonstration that happened in a special session of the Delhi Assembly on Tuesday, May 9.
The EVM-tampering issue has cropped up in recent times because the BJP seems to be winning several elections on a trot and performing quite well in some others. The complaints became only louder when the BJP won the UP Assembly election by a margin no one expected it to. And Tuesday's "demonstration" is ostensibly to show how such a thing can happen.
How did that unfold? See it here:
Here are a few reasons why we think the demonstration given by Bharadwaj is suspect:
1. This is not a real EVM: What was used in the demonstration was described by Bharadwaj as an "EVM-like" device. Given that the manner in which EVMs are made is highly secret, there is little chance that he got his hands on the schematics of an actual EVM — from any of the three generations currently in use — because doing so would mean he had committed a crime.
2. If no real EVM, then no real hacking: If this is indeed neither a real EVM nor has been designed according to one, how is hacking it akin to hacking a real EVM? For all we know, Bharadwaj could have rustled up this device with some some Raspberry Pis and programmed it to do exactly what he wanted to demonstrate! That would be akin to the Biblical story of how Gideon created a lot of noise and conned the Midianites into believing they were outnumbered, and thus surrendered!
3. Real EVM hacking still debatable: The actual hacking of EVMs is going to take place in the third week of this month, as part of an open challenge the Election Commission (EC) has thrown to political parties and security experts to see if the devices can be tampered with.
4. What's stopping AAP from using this hack? During the demonstration, Bharadwaj claimed that microchips used in EVMs are imported from countries that know they can be hacked. That, combined with the code he used to show the "hacking," should imply that the microchip is pre-programmed for the hack. So what is stopping the AAP to figure out this hack and using it for its own benefit?
5. Is this a diversion? Kejriwal is currently under fire from a few quarters after sacked leader Kapil Mishra has accused him of bribery. That Kejriwal announced this special session one day after the allegations became public, and scheduled it just another day later gives the distinct impression that he and the AAP may be trying to pull a fast one and divert attention from those allegations.