Elon Musk wades into EVM debate giving fresh ammo to Oppn, Rahul calls voting machines ‘black box’

New Delhi: Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s call to scrap Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) Sunday triggered a fresh debate in India on their reliability with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi flagging “serious concerns” about transparency in the country’s electoral process. 

Musk’s remarks came in response to reports that the election commission of Puerto Rico was reviewing its contract with a USA-based electronic voting company after the emergence of discrepancies in the voting process in the island territory.

“We should eliminate electronic voting machines. The risk of being hacked by humans or AI, while small, is still too high,” Musk posted on X, a social media platform he owns. 

Musk’s post attained a political dimension in India, where opposition parties have been questioning the conduct of the Election Commision (EC) while also raising questions on the reliability of EVMs.

On Sunday, a fresh controversy also broke out over the poll outcome of the Mumbai North West Lok Sabha seat. Ravindra Waikar, candidate of Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena, had won the seat by a narrow margin of  48 votes. Mid-Day reported that a relative of Waikar’s had entered the counting station with a mobile phone allegedly connected to EVMs. 

The returning officer issued a notice to the newspaper, dismissing the allegations made in the report. However, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Priyanka Chaturvedi, taking to X, said the returning officer’s statement further “implicated” the election office and raised more questions. 

Meanwhile, Musk’s comment drew reactions not just from the Opposition, but also the ruling BJP. 

In a post on X, Rahul Gandhi called EVMs a “black box”.

Many others in the Opposition also took a swipe at the Centre over Musk’s post. For instance, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Aditya Thackeray remarked: “What’s the bet that the @X account of @elonmusk will be sent a notice to close down by the Union Govt or EC?”

 

Priyank Kharge, Karnataka IT minister and son of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, said the EC needs to hold an ethical hackathon to allay the fears of a possible manipulation of EVMs.

Responding to Musk, former minister of state for the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar sought to defend the EVMs used in Indian elections, pointing out that they are isolated from any network or media. 

Musk responded to the BJP leader, saying, “Anything can be hacked.”

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)


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