Congress leader Rahul Gandhi joined growing calls for transparency on Monday amid allegations of vote manipulation in Mumbai. The Wayanad and Raebareli MP-designate urged the election Commission to ‘ensure transparency’ or abolish the use of electronic voting machines. The remarks came even as the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction indicated plans to approach the Supreme Court over its defeat from Mumbai North West by a mere 48 votes.

“When democratic institutions are captured, the only safeguard lies in electoral processes that are transparent to the public. EVM is currently a black box. EC must either ensure complete transparency of the machines and processes, or abolish them,” Gandhi asserted.

Mumbai poll officials had issued a clarification on Sunday after a report alleged EVM manipulation via cellphone. The Vanrai police has since booked polling personnel Dinesh Gurav and Mangesh Pandilkar — the brother-in-law of Shiv Sena MP Shiv Ravindra Waikar — for using a mobile phone at a counting centre in Goregaon on June 4. Waikar had defeated Shiv Sena (UBT) candidate Amol Kirtikar by 48 votes during the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections — the lowest victory margin in the country.

ALSO READ: Mumbai poll official denies claim of mobile phone OTP to ‘unlock EVM’ amid FIR against Shiv Sena MP Waikar’s kin

According to a Mid-day report, the phone was connected to the Electronic Voting Machine and used to generate an ‘unlocking’ OTP. The publication said that the police had found an “Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System for Service Voter which is also used after using EVM machines”. It claimed that Gurav had used the mobile phone in question to generate an OTP. Allegedly Kirtikar had lost his lead once the votes on the ETPBS were counted.

ALSO READ: Mumbai North West LS seat row: Shiv Sena (UBT) to approach court, says ‘we have won the seat’

Gandhi had previously joined other Opposition leaders in quoting a post by X and Tesla chief Elon Musk about the ‘too high’ risk of hacking that came with EVMs. He also cited the Midday report to call for accountability.

“Democracy ends up becoming a sham and prone to fraud when institutions lack accountability,” he said in an earlier post.

ALSO READ: EVM row: ‘So Tesla can be hacked’, says Rajeev Chandrasekhar on Elon Musk’s ‘anything can be hacked’ claim

Allegations about faulty EVMs were also echoed by fellow party MP Gaurav Gogoi. The newly elected Jorhat representative called for the poll body to share data on the total number of EMVs that were found to be faulty during the mock poll and six-week elections.

“Having contested the elections , I can confidently say that these machines have shown inaccurate results. I hope the Election Commission puts out the above data because the public have the right to know,” he tweeted.

ALSO READ: ‘Art of stealing victory’: Shiv Sena (UBT) leader takes swipe at ECI amid Amol Kirtikar’s defeat by 48 votes

(With inputs from agencies)

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Published: 17 Jun 2024, 05:18 PM IST

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