Uttarakhand High Court Says EC’s Hackathon Unconstitutional, EC Refuses To Budge

Despite the Uttarakhand high court terming hackathon of electronic voting machines arranged for tomorrow is unconstitutional, the Election Commission of India has resolved to go ahead with the proposed testing of EVMs.

New Delhi:  As the Election Commission makes preparations for the hackathon, Uttarakhand High Court said the event is unconstitutional. However, the EC said that it will not cancel its plans.

Meanwhile, the court will deliver its verdict later on Friday evening. The court which had earlier asked for electronic voting machines used in Uttarakhand election to be seized after Congress candidates complained that the result was manipulated against them.

However, Friday’s warning to the EC against its plans for Saturday is based on a case filed by a Congress leader, Dr Ramesh Pandey, who said the Commission does not have the authority to conduct the event.

Meanwhile, Election Commission has arranged more than 10 vote machines that were recently used in elections including in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand for tomorrow’s hackathon. Now it’s the turn of political parties to try and prove that the machines can be rigged.

A total of 14 Electronic Voting Machines or EVMs will be made available to representatives of Sharad Pawar’s party and the Left who hope to prove that the Election Commission is wrong and that the equipment used by it can be gamed, as alleged by a series of political outfits including the Congress and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party or AAP after Prime Minister Narendra Modi front-lined his party’s gigantic wins in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

AAP, which has accused the Election Commission of colluding with the BJP to rig results in its favour, has announced that it will hold a parallel hackathon of its own tomorrow.

At the Election Commission’s event, hackers will get five hours -from 10 am to 2 pm – and access to four machines each. The other EVMs will be kept as a backup.

The participant will be considered “failed” if the EVM stops functioning as a result of its inbuilt defence mechanism against tampering.

The participants — three members per party – can “physically examine” EVMs and check circuits, chips and motherboard, but cannot replace any part. Arvind Kejriwal’s party had asked for these restrictions to be removed, claiming it “would not be possible to tamper with the machines without giving people a free hand to do so.”

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Presidential Election On July 17

The schedule for the presidential poll has been announced by the Election Commission and the polling will take place on July 17 to elect a new President in place of Pranab Mukherjee.

New Delhi: The election for the 14th President of India will be held on July 17, if necessary, as the term of present President Pranab Mukherjee will expire on July 24. The counting will take place on July 20, announced the Election Commission on Wednesday.

Announcing the schedule for the Presidential election at a press conference the Chief Election Commissioner Naseem Zaidi said that the nominations can be filed from June 18 and the last day for nominations is June 28.

The election for President and Vice President will be held according to Article 324, he said.

The Electoral College to pick a President comprises of all elected MPs and MLAs. Each vote also has a weightage or value depending on the size of the population he or she represents.

MPs have the highest value — 708 — for each vote, while the value of an MLA’s vote depends on the population of the state.

The schedule released by the Election Commission:

Date for issuing notification — June 14

Last date for filing nomination — June 28

Date for Scrutiny of nomination — June 29

Last date for withdrawal of nomination — July 1

Election, if necessary — July 17

Counting of votes, if necessary — July 20

Meanwhile, the Opposition parties led by Congress formed a panel to pick their presidential candidate, though it wants the government to propose a suitable name. But the NDA is silent over the name till now. As the Election Commission released the schedule of the poll, BJP might announce the name.

As BJP is wielding power at the Centre and in many States, the prospects of pushing own candidates are bright.

However, the analysts feel that there might be a tough contest in the polls as some of the parties might backtrack and not vote for the ruling party proposed candidate.

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NCP And CPM Express Satisfaction Over EVMs At Hackathon

The Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi told media that the CPM and the NCP that participated in the event were satisfied with the EVMs after the demonstration.

New Delhi: The Election Commission, which held hackathon on Saturday, said that the political parties that participated in the event expressed satisfaction of the EVMs.

The Commission decided to conduct hackathon to prove its EVMs are unhackable, as many parties alleged that EVMs were tampered with.

Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi told media that the CPM and the NCP that participated in the event were satisfied with the EVMs after the demonstration.

Claiming that the NCP and the CPM didn’t want to participate in the challenge, but were only interested in participating in an academic exercise, Zaidi said that now they were satisfied with the outcome.

Zaidi said that the CMP team expressed complete satisfaction and suggested that the commission should hold such demonstrations and awareness sessions proactively.

The NCP team had told us that doubts sprang up due to the alleged problems with EVMs during municipal elections in Maharashtra, Zaidi said. However, he clarified that the EVMs used by the Maharashtra Election Commission for the urban local body polls do not belong to the EC.

ZAidi said the NCP team expressed willingness to opt out requesting ECI should evolve a system, which clearly distinguishes ECI EVMs from that of state EC EVMs.

The NCP and the CPI (M) were the only parties that participated in the event. Three representatives each nominated by both parties attended the session.

The Commission used 14 EVMs from Punjab, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh for the challenge.

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We Don’t Have Any Favourites: EC Tells Political Parties

The Election Commission clarifies that it has no favourites in political parties, amidst allegations of tampering of EVMs.

New Delhi: The Election Commission, which convened an all- party meeting on Friday to discuss the tampering controversy, clarified that it has no favourites in political parties.

“Election Commission to offer political parties chance to prove that EVMs used in recent polls were tampered with,” The Chief Election Commissioner Zaidi said, opening the discussion.

The Election Commission will maintain equidistance from all parties, as it is a Constitutional body, he said.

The political parties that were defeated in different States alleged about tampering of EVMs. The allegation snowballed into a major controversy. In this context, the all-party meeting was convened to debate the trustworthiness of EVMs.

After AAP’s fiasco in the assembly, there was a debate over the definition of hacking. He said that the Commission received funds for Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail or VVPAT from the government, and it would be implemented by 2019.

Seven national attended the meeting aalong 35 recognised regional parties on Friday. The date of the proposed challenge will be decided after the meeting.

Responding to AAP’s demonstration and its subsequent claim that EVMs can be tampered, the EC said, “the machine is a look–alike and not the ECI-EVM.”

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Election Commission involved in the cash for symbol case?

According to Delhi police sources, an Election Commission official is also involved in Cash for Symbol case. More evidence is being gathered to prove his involvement.

New Delhi: Cash for symbol case is getting murkier day by day. After arresting Sukhesh Chandra Sekhar, the alleged middleman, in AIADMK symbol case, Delhi police sources revealed that the Crime Branch has enough evidence to prove the involvement of Election Commission official.

Sources revealed that the Delhi Police’s Crime Branch is collecting further evidence before it acts against the Election Commission official.

According to sources, the Delhi police is all set to sending teams to various places including Bengaluru to seize Sukhesh Chandrasekhar’s laptop and other possessions that can provide vital evidence in the case. Though Chandrasekhar belongs to Bengaluru, his network’s wings are spread across south India.

The police on Monday not only recovered Rs 1.3 crores from Sukhesh but also seized two luxury cars. A serial conman, Sukhesh, allegedly promised to help the ruling AIADMK faction to get two leaves symbol unfreezed by the election commission if he was paid Rs 50 crores.

The Delhi police after nabbing Sukhesh and recording his statement, booked AIADMK duputy secretary TTV Dinakaran in the bribery case. However, Dinakaran countered the allegations by claiming that he don’t know anyone by name Sukhesh Chandra Sekhar.

As clamour for the two –leaves symbol grew louder before the RK Nagar by-poll  the Election Commission freezed the symbol. Both the AIADMK camps competed for it,claiming themselves to be the real heirs of Amma.

The RK Nagar by-poll which was scheduled for April 12 was cancelled following reports of political parites bribing voters.

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Delhi ’s AK 47

S. Madhusudhana Rao

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal never finds fire power wanting. In the latest salvo he fired on Monday, he called for a ‘referendum’ to decide on the status of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-ruled state. He is reported to have asked the Urban Development department to prepare a feasibility report setting a timeline and the legal department to expedite work on a draft bill for full statehood to be submitted to the central government.


S. Madhusudhana Rao

“The government is keen on having the Election Commission conduct the referendum as it will carry more weight. In case that option is not available, the government is ready to conduct it on its own,” an official is reported to have said.

Why did the darling of the Delhi masses suddenly raise the Delhi statehood when there is no dearth of issues to be bothered about in the national capital? Civic problems, for example, are as common and galore as any other city in the country despite the fact that Lutyens’ Delhi is unique in many respects.

Exactly, that’s the problem. It is neither a full-fledged state nor an autonomous region with powers. It is something in between and that semi-status has been continuing for decades and no government at the centre wants to change the status quo. That is a stifling situation for anyone who will become the chief minister of Delhi. If the ruling party at the national seat of power and in the state is the same, people can hope for smooth working relationship. Sometimes, even if both are of the same hue, still they spar over jurisdictions and powers in turf wars. For example, the previous Congress government headed by Sheila Dixit who lost the Assembly poll to Kejriwal.

If the state and central governments are headed by two different parties, the friction will be frequent. It will also produce a lot of sound and fury. That’s what is happening in Delhi with two disparate parties AAP and BJP trying to take on each other. In the process, AK loves to prickle the saffron party bosses with his populist campaigns and blame games for all Delhiites’ problems.  To be in perpetual limelight, Kejriwal needs to get his mojo working and bringing up the statehood issue is part of that strategy.

True, one of his election promises is to get full statehood for Delhi. Earlier, even BJP, when it was in opposition, had been demanding it but now the party is silent after it came to power because it does not want to disturb the status quo since it suits its interests. But now Kejriwal has upped the ante by proposing to take the issue to the people instead of leaving it in the hands of parliamentarians.

His call for ‘referendum’ has no precedence in this country. In fact, there is no constitutional provision for referenda unlike in the Western democracies where every controversial and contentious issue is decided by the people through ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote. Greek referendum on European bailout package for the debt-ridden country is the latest. Whether the Greece vote has inspired Kejriwal we don’t know. But he looks set to go ahead by first preparing the ground for a confrontation with the centre, knowing full well that an issue-based vote has no statute sanction in India.

Surely, he is not ignorant of the Constitution which makes it clear that “the national capital can’t be under a state or a local government.” However, in 1991, the parliament passed the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act to tackle the administrative issues. The reason for giving Delhi a peculiar status is to safeguard it from the point of national interest.

Whatever noise one makes, nothing could be done to grant Delhi full statehood. Moreover, Constitution has to be amended to change Delhi status. Then, why is Kejriwal calling for a ‘referendum’? Obviously, to try to build up pressure on the Modi government. It’s a tactical move that is bound to fail. Instead, he should sort out the irritants that are causing the friction between Delhi government and the Centre. When he reassumed office with a convincing majority, one of his promises made to the people was he would work with the Modi government in an amicable manner without treading a confrontationist path. But, his words and deeds belie that assurance.

More dangerous, however, is Kejriwal’s gross move to put before the people a specific issue to decide without thinking its consequences and repercussions at the national level.

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High Court angered on delaying GHMC elections

HYDERABAD: The Telangana Government was taken to task by the High Court for the delay in holding elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC).

The State government had to face the ire of the High Court on Thursday when it sought six months’ time for holding the elections to GHMC. The State Advocate-General informed the Court that the government has no objection in holding the elections. It only wants a little more time to complete the process of delimitation of the number of wards, he explained.

It may be mentioned here that the State Government had informed the High Court during the hearing that the elections in GHMC would be held in December this year. The court at that time felt there was no need for such a long period for holding the elections. When the issue came up again on Thursday and the Government sought some more time, the court became furious and quipped to the effect that how many times the government wants postponement of the elections.

The government was also warned that the court would be compelled to ask the Election Commission to hold the elections in the event the State government failed to act. If for some reason the State Election Commission cannot hold the elections, the Court will ask the Central Election Commission to take up the task, the government was informed.

The State Government was asked to file its counter and the case was adjourned to April 20. (NSS)

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