Controversy surrounds DUSU polls with allegations of EVM-tampering

Written by CJP | Published on: September 14, 2018
The RSS-affiliated right-wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) secured three out of four top positions in the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) elections. ABVP won the posts of president, vice-president, and retained the post of joint secretary. Ankiv Baisoya was elected president, while Shakti Singh was elected vice-president. Jyoti Choudhary took the seat of joint secretary. The Congress-affiliated National Students Union of India’s (NSUI) Aakash Choudhary won the position of secretary. The alliance between the CYSS and AISA did not win any seats.

DUSU

The counting of the votes was contentious, with NSUI making allegations of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) tampering, and eventual violence during the process. NSUI alleged that their "loss was the result of a ‘concerted conspiracy’ to bring them down," News18 reported. The counting began at 8.30am on Thursday, September 13, and was halted intermittently due to technical issues with the EVM machines. The process was paused for an hour in the morning because one EVM’s electronic display had failed, News18 said, adding, "A more serious technical glitch was recorded when the EVM started showing votes for post of secretary on ballot number 10, which did not exist. There were eight ballots for the eight candidates and one ballot for NOTA, bringing the total to nine." The university’s administration acknowledged that the EVMs were faulty and the counting was halted again the afternoon.

The Indian Express reported, "In the midst of violence by students of both organisations, counting was suspended and restarted after 5.30 pm. It was first time in DU’s history that counting was suspended." Both members of the ABVP and NSUI broke windows when they were not permitted to leave the centre.

Laraib Neyazi, the national coordinator for NSUI, told News18, "We did not get votes from seven ballots out of 126 and we demand those votes be counted in," adding, "ABVP is behind the malfunctioning EVMs. The counting stopped multiple times and the result was postponed. This all was done to defeat us". He alleged that the alliance between the CYSS-AISA "was part of the 'conspiracy to defeat NSUI," News18 reported. The NSUI also alleged that the the BJP had pressured the university’s administration to rig the polls for ABVP.

Baisoya secured 1,744 more votes than Sunny Chillar of the NSUI to win the seat of president, and, per News18, "Chillar had led on the seat all morning before the counting process was halted." 

Key to note is a letter from Election Officer (EVM) Manoj Kumar to Ms. Shefali, ADG, Election Commission of India, which Sabrang has obtained. The letter, dated September 13, states, "With reference to the caption being shown in some news channels regarding use of EVMs in the elections of Delhi University Students Union, I am directed to inform that the EVMs in question is not of Election Commission as no such EVMs have been allotted/issued to Delhi University by this office. It was also confirmed from the State Election Commission that no such machines have been given by them too." The letter continues, "It seems that the Delhi University has procured these machines privately. A detailed report in this regard will be sent subsequently as all officials of Delhi University are not available and busy in their election process at present." Kumar reiterated this to ANI, saying, "EVMs haven't been issued/allotted to Delhi University by this office. It was also confirmed from State Election Commission that no such machines have been given by them too. It seems that Delhi University has procured these machines privately." Kumar's letter may be read below:




In light of this, the question regarding which private party or parties supplied the EVMs remains, as do the questions of whether the suppliers possessed the technology to manufacture the machines and how the machines were authorised for use in a central university.