Assembly election results- EVMs and Poll rigging claims and the Reality

The results of Assembly elections held in 5 states were out on 11 March 2017, with the BJP winning a huge 312 seats in Uttar Pradesh, with 13 more won by its allies to make it a total of 325 out of 403. The SP-Congress alliance won 54 (SP-47, Congress-7). The BSP won 19. Shocked by the massive rout, BSP chief Mayawati alleged on 11 March that the results were due to ‘EVM tampering’, and that there should be fresh elections held in UP with the old ballot paper way. The BJP won 57 out of 70 seats in Uttarakhand, but the BJP-SAD alliance was defeated in Punjab winning only 18 out of 117 seats, though a respectable 30.6% vote share, much above AAP+LIP’s 24.9%. Goa and Manipur threw hung verdicts, with a very creditable performance by BJP in Manipur winning 21 seats with 36.3% vote, higher than the Congress’ 35.1% with 28 seats. But for the BJP its seats in Goa were unsatisfactory, though its vote of 32.5% was a huge 4% higher than Congress’ 28.4%.

There was nothing miraculous or unbelievable anywhere. In UP the exit polls of Todays Chanakya & India Today had predicted close to the reality for the BJP. The BSP got only 19 seats, but won 22.2% vote, a little more than the 19.8% vote it won in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, and similar to the 23% vote it won in the 2002 Assembly polls in UP, when it had 98 seats. The SP-Congress alliance too won 28% vote together (SP- 21.8% and Congress 6.2%), just about 1% lesser than the 29.15% won by SP in 2012 contesting alone, when it won a huge 224 seats. SP and BSP largely retained their voter base, losing only marginally. The BJP got 39.7% vote, and 41.4% with its allies, giving it a four-fifth majority, which was actually 2% lesser than what it got in 2014 LS polls in UP.

For the BSP, it has been defeat after defeat since its win in the 2007 UP Assembly polls. It lost in 2009 LS (despite getting highest vote % in UP), 2012 UP Assembly and drew a blank in 2014 LS polls despite getting a decent vote share. Now it risks political irrelevance, disintegration and inability to send a single member to the Rajya Sabha, that is to re-elect Mayawati herself. So to see Mayawati make ridiculous charges on EVMs out of desperation is understandable. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was hoping to win in Punjab and was overconfident of a huge win, with its spokesman Raghav Chaddha saying that he would leave politics if the AAP won less than 85 seats in Punjab, while it won only 20. AAP is an immature party with its chief Kejriwal desperate to become Prime Minister and unable to digest his and his party’s rout in the 2014 LS polls as well as now. It was no surprise to see AAP parrot the lies made by BSP on EVMs.

In Nov 2014, Kejriwal lied from its twitter handle that Varanasi had 3 lakh bogus voters.

He had lost from Varanasi to PM Modi by 3.7 lakh votes and couldn’t reconcile to it. At the time of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the Samajwadi Party ruled in UP, and the UPA at the Centre. How could BJP have done anything? BJP also could not have been accused of EVM tampering, since it was in Opposition. When the truth was out (that this news of bogus voters is false) no one apologized to BJP or the PM for the lies.

The lies and desperation of sore losers like BSP, AAP are understandable, but the Congress should know better. But the Congress has shown itself to be no different from BSP or AAP and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and former CM of Jammu & Kashmir Ghulam Nabi Azad directly alleged in the Rajya Sabha that EVMs were tampered in UP Assembly polls. To see a former CM and Leader of Opposition resort to this level is worrying. After coming to power at the Centre in 2014, the BJP lost the Bihar Assembly polls badly in Nov 2015, and also Delhi Assembly polls of Feb 2015, not to mention the defeat in Punjab and lack of clear majority in Goa and Manipur. Had EVMs been tamperable, the results wouldn’t have been so. Besides, representatives of all parties are present when EVMs’ seals are opened and the process is transparent. Alleging that the EVMs were tampered with by the Central Government is an attack on the Election Commission, not on the Central Government. In many seats, BJP did not even field candidates which were contested by its allies such as Apna Dal, SBSP in UP, 4 Independents which BJP supported in Goa, SAD in Punjab. AAP claimed that its votes in some areas were lesser than its number of volunteers, so polls must have been rigged, which is an old claim of losers to say. After the initial claims of BSP and AAP found no takers and ended up making these parties look silly, Kejriwal and other politicians spread more lies about EVM tampering in Madhya Pradesh. That so-called controversy was a result of vile politicians.

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In reality, real rigging was done in the past in elections by Lalu Yadav’s RJD in Bihar during its rule from 1990-2005 and in West Bengal by the Left Front during its 34-year rule from 1977 to 2011. As late as in the May 2004 LS elections, Lalu Yadav’s seat of Chhapra in Bihar saw a repoll ordered by the Election Commission in the whole seat after allegations of rigging were found to be true. The EC found that on polling day on 26 April 2004, large-scale violence had terrorized ordinary voters who could not exercise their franchise. It also found evidence of large-scale rigging and booth capturing. It also found that electoral registers had been manipulated, which indicated silent booth capturing. There were video tapes of booth capturing, broadcast by TV channels. At that time, the Congress had fully backed Lalu Yadav on this charge as RJD was its ally. If this was the case in Lalu’s VIP seat of Chhapra where he was contesting against a Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy, one can well imagine what would have been the case in other seats in Bihar held and/or contested by people like Taslimuddin, Shahabuddin etc.

Massive electoral malpractices, frightening opponents were all rampant in West Bengal, then ruled by the Left too. Former PM Rajiv Gandhi called it ‘Scientific rigging’. The results in some booths in some constituencies in the 2001 West Bengal Assembly polls were as follows, reported by Bengali daily ‘Bartaman’ dated 19 May 2001.

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Raniganj Assembly constituency (CPM candidate and minister won the election by a huge margin here):

Booth No               CPI(M)                   Congress

64                            678                            2

143                           662                            6

144                           700                            8

148                           502                            8

166                           358                            3

200                           962                           24

63                             476                           12

128                           556                           17

229                           534                           17

127                           776                           18

138                           409                           11

197                           659                           12

195                           673                           15

139                           740                           16

140                           767                           15

196                           533                           15

114                           580                           15

143                           301                           29

107                           407                           17

198-A                       581                           27

Obviously the CPM cadres after capturing the booths pressed the button a few times for the Congress nominee, so that the result would not appear to be that blatant. But in some booths, even this ‘minimum courtesy’ was not shown. Results in some booths in Jamuria constituency, adjacent to Raniganj: (Courtesy: Weekly ‘Organiser’ dated 4 June 2001)

Booth No                  CPI(M)                Trinamool (TC)

207                             830                           0

129                             678                           0

112                             351                           1

12                               623                           3

178                             534                           3

14                               509                           4

46                               754                           6

142                             462                           6

45                               673                           7

28                               428                           9

264                             691                         10

157                           1004                         11

54                               888                         12

97                               983                         13

181                             436                         15

73                               199                         15

70                               360                         17

CPM leader Comrade Biman Basu was caught on camera on 8 May 2004 asking CPM cadres to attack Election Commission people in protest against a decision which CPM did not like, for which he was condemned by Mamata Banerjee, BJP and Congress alike. Some Central observers alleged to the CEC that their lives were in danger following threat by some CPI(M) workers who were opposing them to act impartially for ensuring a free and fair poll in West Bengal.

The EC’s report on the Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal in 2004 by a Muslim officer Afjal Amanulla to the CEC said:  “Last year’s Parliamentary election in West Bengal was a farce and Election Commission should reject the poll process. The top leaders of the CPM and key persons of state administration had acted themselves as a barricade to have a free and fair polling…”

   The Congress allied in West Bengal with this very Left Front in 2016, which it itself had accused of scientific rigging for decades. And such parties now (Congress, RJD etc.) are now accusing the BJP of having tampered with the EVMs! What an irony that real poll riggers or those who supported the riggers are now crying foul with real rigging past of these parties forgotten. The Central Government as well as the EC perhaps need to sue such leaders and parties like AAP, BSP, RJD and Congress whose lies are as bad as their hypocrisy, having supported and/or rigged polls in the past!

–M D Deshpande