“Even If I Win All 80 Seats In UP…”: Akhilesh Yadav On EVM Row

Akhilesh Yadav has underlined his distrust of EVMs, or Electronic Voting Machines, stating he would be loath to change his opinion even if he were to win all of Uttar Pradesh’s 80 Lok Sabha seats.

“I did not trust EVMs yesterday, I don’t trust them today. Even if I win all 80 seats in UP, I still will not trust EVMs. This will always be an issue,” the ex-UP Chief Minister said, “We (Mr Yadav’s Samajwadi Party) will remain adamant on this… if we win with EVMs we will still remove it.”

“This will never be resolved till use of EVM is stopped… and we are determined to do so,” he said in Parliament, replying to the Motion of Thanks on President Droupadi Murmu’s address last week.

The opposition’s red flags over EVMs – that they can be hacked and/or votes manipulated – were a major flashpoint before and during the 2024 Lok Sabha election, with the Supreme Court ruling on petitions mid-poll. The court ultimately dismissed a pleas seeking a paper cross-check of each vote.

#WATCH | On EVMs, Samajwadi Party MP Akhilesh Yadav says,”…EVM pe mujhe kal bhi bharosa nahi tha, aaj bhi nahi hai bharosa, mein 80/80 seats jeet jaun tab bhi nahi bharosa…The issue of EVM has not died” pic.twitter.com/UJIS6hBGQt

— ANI (@ANI) July 2, 2024

That did not, however, silence opposition leaders who doubted the technology, of whom Mr Yadav has been among the most vocal. He raised similar questions during the 2022 UP state election too.

READ | Officer Admitted To “Lapse”: SP Tweets Video In EVM Row

During that election Mr Yadav also accused the BJP of trying to steal votes, with specific reference to alleged illegal activities in Varanasi, which is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha seat.

And in December, weeks before the Lok Sabha election, the SP leader said EVMs – he referred to them as “those machines” – “… have created a feeling of distrust in the minds of the people”.

READ | EVMs Create Distrust, Should Use Ballot Papers: Akhilesh Yadav

He pointed to the United States as an example; the US Presidential election uses paper ballots.

“In the most powerful country in the world… months are spent on counting… (in India) over 140 crore people decide the country’s future. Why do you want results in three hours?” he had asked.

The opposition’s attacks over the use of EVMs got an unexpected boost last month after X (formerly Twitter) owner Elon Musk responded to a post by Robert F Kennedy Jr, ex-President John F Kennedy’s nephew on polling irregularities in the American territory of Puerto Rico.

READ | INDIA Allies Latch On To Musk’s Remarks On EVMs

Akhilesh Yadav was among the opposition leaders who spoke up.

“Technology is to remove problems… if they become a cause of problems their use must be stopped. When risks of tampering are being flagged in elections across the world, and well-known technology experts are flagging risks, BJP must clear the air on why they are bent on using EVMs,” he said.

Despite such protests, however, the Election Commission has maintained EVMs constitute a viable voting method, and that robust technical and administrative safeguards are in place for their use.

READ | In VVPAT Case, Court’s 2 Big Directions On EVMs, SUs

Mr Yadav’s Samajwadi Party is part of the Congress-led INDIA bloc that stymied the BJP’s grand ‘abki baar, 400 paar‘ plan in the 2024 election. The SP won 37 seats – its best Lok Sabha poll return.

Mr Yadav contested and won his family bastion of Kannauj.

That restricted the BJP to just 33 seats in a state it has dominated since 2014; fueled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and later by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, the BJP had swept UP in four consecutive elections – two Lok Sabha and two Assembly – before the opposition’ reality check.

The BJP finished the election with only 240 seats but retained power thanks to 53 won by allies.

The opposition – the INDIA bloc – won 232 seats, with a rejuvenated Congress, led by Rahul Gandhi, picking up 99 to more than double its tally from the last two elections.

With input from PTI

NDTV is now available on WhatsApp channels. Click on the link to get all the latest updates from NDTV on your chat.

Enable Notifications OK No thanks