A good and conscientious journalist’s worst moment in life may be when after a coherent and sensible analysis of election results he is told that the EVMs were found to be tampered with. I don’t know about others but I would definitely go into deep depression and it would take me a long time to recover from the shame of plying my flawed wisdom with misplaced élan and smugness. But that is a subjective issue. The real point is that lately doubts have been raised about the EVMs being susceptible to systematic tampering. Recently after the UP elections, Mayawati raised the issue and just yesterday AAP’s Kejriwal brought it up forcefully. The reaction in the press has been ludicrous. They are both being jeered all over for being bad sport. There is no evidence that any member of the press tried to go deep into the issue but the prevalent despise for Mayawati and Kejriwal seems to have become the common policy. The Election Commission has termed the stray instances such as the Dholpur election in MP supposedly to be cases of malfunctioning but the allegations of tampering have persisted with claims that the incidents are not isolated but ‘systematic’.
The contradictions between the sublime ideals of democracy and the actual procedures are hardly matters to be ignored or to be pushed under the rug. Just view this brief show by John Oliver on gerrymandering in the US elections and you will fully appreciate the significance of foolproof procedures in a democratic system. Similarly, a well-known columnist points out the implications of booth wise display of election results where the issue of privacy raises its head. Quite simply, if a candidate gets to find out that you voted against him, will he take vengeful measures against you? So on the whole the issue here is that of ensuring that people trust the EVMs and are able to clearly see whom they voted for through Voter Verified Paper Audit Trial (VVPAT).
In the light of all this, this report acquires special significance. Whether the opposition parties are able to come together on a political platform against the BJP juggernaut is far less important than their united efforts to ensure the trustworthiness of the EVMs. That the Election Commission has agreed to hold an all-party meeting instead of giving specious arguments in the defense of the EVMs claiming total infallibility is equally welcome.