A YouTube video being shared widely on WhatsApp claims EVMs used in elections in the over seven phases will be replaced inside strongrooms with ones the BJP has prepared to ensure they win big.
The video claims that EVMs will be changed in Odisha, Bengal, MP, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Kerala.
The allegations, made by a newsreader in the “Tricolour News Network” video published on May 16, seem vastly exaggerated, but multiple reports of EVMs being transported without security in parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have not helped dispel the rumours.
On Tuesday, the Election Commission called the reports “baseless” and said that in all cases the EVMs and VVPATs were sealed properly in front of the parties’ candidates.
Former President Pranab Mukherjee, too, expressed concern over “reports of alleged tampering of voters’ verdict” and asserted that “the safety and security of EVMs which are in the custody of the ECI is the responsibility of the Commission.”
In a statement, Mukherjee said: “The onus of ensuring institutional integrity in this case lies with the Election Commission of India (ECI). They must do so and put all speculations to rest.”
The YouTube video claimed that the EVMs will be switched after May 19, when politicians will be relaxing after the long seven-phase polls, “under the watch of BJP sympathisers within the government and its supporters.”
The video said the BJP is targeting Odisha because the BJD did not go for a pre-poll alliance with the BJP. If the BJP wins big in the state, which the video claims could happen by replacing the EVMs, the party will claim this was because people were impressed by the BJP’s promises and delivery. Also, the video erroneously claims that people wanted to see a change from BJD’s Naveen Patnaik after 1997 (Naveen Patnaik became chief minister after the elections in 2000).
Prime Minister Modi and Amit Shah have been claiming that the BJP will this time win 300 seats and the NDA 350 seats.