Musk, hacking and toaster: EVM row takes a dramatic turn with allegations of OTP use   


A security personnel guards a room where Electronic Voting Machines (EVM's) are kept during the General Elections 2024 (ANI)

Tesla and Twitter chief Elon Musk has advised against using Electronic Voting Machines and said that these machines should be eliminated

Our Bureau
Mumbai/New Delhi

Amid a raging debate on Electronic Voting machines, Maharashtra Congress President Nana Patole on Monday said that ballot papers must replace EVMs and emphasized that the Congress party has been constantly raising the demand for ballot papers but the center has shown reluctance to it.

The row was sparked by a report by a Mumbai-based newspaper stated that Shiv Sena leader Ravindra Waikar’s relative was carrying a mobile phone inside a counting center in Maharashtra’s Goregaon that was allegedly used for generating the OTP that unlocked the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM), the Returning Officer dispelled such reports and clarified that no OTP (One Time Password) on mobile is needed for unlocking EVMs.

“There is no OTP (One Time Password) on mobile for unlocking EVM as it is non programmable and it has no wireless communication capabilities. It is a complete lie being spread by a newspaper, which is being used by some leaders to create false narrative,” Vandana Suryavanshi, the Returning Officer of 27 Mumbai North West Parliamentary Constituency said in a press conference on Sunday. “Criminal case has already been filed by the Returning Officer,” she added.

Meanwhile, Tesla chief Elon Musk has advised against using Electronic Voting Machines and said that these machines should be eliminated. The remarks of the Tesla CEO came amid a growing debate on the security of EVMs around the world.

In a sharp response to Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s claims about the possibility of hacking electronic voting machines (EVMs), BJP leader and former Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, stated that the billionaire CEO was factually incorrect.

Chandrasekhar said, “I think he is factually incorrect in saying that anything can be hacked. A calculator or toaster cannot be hacked. Therefore, there is a limit in terms of where this paradigm of hacking can extend. Elon Musk does not understand what the Indian EVM is. Indian EVMs do not lend itself to being hacked because it is precisely very limited intelligence devices.”

“This was not so much about an argument as much as we are clarifying to somebody who is sitting in the US and does not know what the Indian EVM is. I think Elon Musk has not understood what Indian EVM is,” he said

In a related development, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde criticized Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s recent statements regarding Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) stating that he should resign and contest the election again if he believes EVMs are unreliable.

Shinde also lamented the Congress MP saying that he had won elections from two constituencies, Raebareli and Wayanad, where the same EVMs were used. “Rahul Gandhi has won from two places. The same EVM was kept there also, so he should say that the EVM machine was faulty everywhere and he should resign and contest the election again,” Shinde slammed Gandhi while addressing the media.

“According to him, where they get good seats, the EVMs are fine, and where they get fewer seats, the EVMs are faulty. Will this happen?” Shinde added.

Earlier in the day, Labelling EVM’s as “black box” the Congress MP, Gandhi said that nobody is allowed to scrutinize them.

As the controversy continues to rage, Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal declined to comment on the Electronic Voting Machines, saying that it is a “big issue” as he took a dig at the Supreme Court’s ruling on EVMs. “When the Supreme Court of India said that we must trust our machines, and we must trust the Election Commission of India if the Supreme Court itself is trusting them, why should I comment on them? If we start trusting the government and the machines, then all work should be done through the machines. Why do courts exist then? If we start trusting the government, then what is the use of giving verdicts? This is a big issue; I’ll comment on it later,” Sibal told ANI on Sunday when asked about the EVMs.

Kapil Sibal also suggested that the matter on the integrity of EVMs should be raised in the Monsoon Session of the Parliament and not in the upcoming session because the matter needs “elaborate discussions.”
“In this session, there will be the President’s address followed by a discussion on it. It may come up in the Monsoon Session. I think this issue should not be raised in this Session because there should be elaborate discussions on this issue,” the Rajya Sabha MP said.

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