After the polling for the 7th and final phase of the Lok Sabha elections, 2019 came to an end on 19th, various media organizations had taken out exit polls, gauging the public attitude towards the political parties. After the exit polls, several things have been set in motion. The citizens are widely anticipating NDA’s return but the opposition parties are having difficulties in accepting the inevitable fate. In this regard, some parties are already coming up with all sorts of allegations and excuses. Continuing with their penchant to blame the Election Commission, the opposition parties are planning to meet the EC, and raise the issue of tallying paper trail of votes (VVPATs) with electronic voting machine (EVM) figures.
According to the exit polls, NDA led by BJP has emerged victorious in all the polls, getting over 300 seats. The poll of exit polls by NDTV gave 302 seats to BJP led NDA, 122 to Congress-led UPA and 119 seats to the other regional parties. In light of this, a delegation of 21 opposition parties including Congress, Telugu Desam Party, Left parties, Bahujan Samaj Party, Nationalist Congress Party and Trinamool Congress will meet the EC, to demand tallying of VVPAT slips with EVM figures in an entire Assembly constituency, in case a discrepancy is found in any polling booth. Earlier, on the petition of the opposition parties, the Supreme Court had ordered the physically tally the VVPAT slips with the EVM figures of any 5 random polling stations in each assembly constituency across the county, as opposed to previous tallying done for 1 station.
Now, strangely enough, a day after the exit polls have been released underlining their inevitable departure, the opposition parties have come up with a new demand, which is clearly undermining the authority of the EC. It is also imperative to note here that the main opposition party leaders petitioning this, Rahul Gandhi, Mayawati, Chandrababu Naidu, and Mamata Banerjee, are leaders with individual prime ministerial ambitions, which they saw going down the drain as soon as the exit polls were released.
The exit polls have portrayed the mood of the public. Since the political parties can’t in their right senses claim that the “public mood has been manipulated” by the current government, despite their own attempts to actually manipulate them; have sought out to malign the name of the democratic institutions of the country.
So desperate the Congress is to shift the blame on anyone but their own incompetent leader, they are now making conspiracy theories which are nothing short of pure unbelievable fiction straight out of a schizophrenic person’s diary. According to a report by Aaj Tak, Congress leader Rashid Alvi has stated that the Congress victory in the three states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan last year was only an attempt to create the impression that the EVMs are foolproof and that the Election Commission is acting independently without any intervention from the government. In other words, it was a conspiracy to make people believe in EVMs. The leader also went on to claim that if the exit poll results turn out to be true, it would successfully prove that there was EVM manipulation during the Lok Sabha polls. Perhaps the fancy foreign educated Rahul Gandhi can best explain as to why his party leaders believe the exit polls, which are conducted to gauge the public mood, are an indication to polling involving EVM manipulation, if at all.
Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy has joined Rashid Alvi in the list of opposition leaders to use EVM as a scapegoat for an imminent defeat even before the announcement of results. He said, “The exit poll surveys on May 19 only reiterated the serious concern of the Opposition parties on misuse of vulnerable EVMs for electoral gains by the ruling party.” He added, “Entire Opposition political parties had expressed concern over credibility of EVMs under PM Narendra Modi’s rule.”
The opposition leaders have thus alleged that the EVMs have been “compromised” and “can be manipulated”. Naidu stated that “There are many problems with the counting process. The EC should take steps to resolve all those problems,” implying that the EC isn’t independently taking all measures necessary to ensure free and fair elections.
Whenever the opposition parties have lost the elections, they have alleged EVM malfunctioning and whenever they have won them, they have kept strangely quiet. This selective outrage of the opposition was becoming crystal clear to the citizens, further increasing their disgruntlement towards the opposition, as indicated by the exit polls. In an attempt to work on this selective outrage and not come out as a hypocrite, the Congress has probably put Rashid Alvi to the task of making the bizarre allegations.
In the run-up to the elections, the opposition parties were noticing the immense popularity of the ruling party. It had been inevitable that NDA would be getting a second term. In this regard, they had been united in their efforts to accuse and question the EC’s functioning to undermine the results. Alleging that the votes of the EVM are going directly adding to BJP’s tally, the opposition parties had asked for a verification of the 50% of the VVPAT slips which has been dismissed by the Supreme Court. Strangely enough, the Congress Party had stated that there was a glitch in the technology used by EVMs, the same ones which have now existed for more than a decade and had been used to get Congress-led UPA to power. At that time, the UPA did not feel the need to question the credibility of the EC and demand various procedures to increase the transparency; similarly as they hadn’t, during the Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh state elections at the time of result announcement. In striking contrast, they had immediately had requested counting of VVPAT papers in Telangana, where the Congress had underperformed.
Not just the EVMs, the opposition parties have directly accused the EC of being partial, favoring BJP. The Congress-led opposition has been filing complaints against PM Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, without any prima facie case and allege bias when the EC gives them clean chits. Rahul Gandhi stated, “When it comes to issues of the BJP, the EC is absolutely on the straight line, when it comes to the opposition’s issues, it is completely biased.” However, the EC had been ensuring that the model code of conduct has been abided with, irrespective of the party, an example of this being how the EC had suspended both BSP leader Mayawati and BJP leader Yogi Adityanath from campaigning for a few days. While BJP did not cry foul play, the opposition has been whining about “unfair” behavior towards them.
Now, with the exit polls released, the desperation of the opposition parties has reached a new record. Instead of looking into their own party, the leadership and the shortcomings, they are seeking to malign the very democratic institutions which they claim to want to protect. Needing a scapegoat to vent out their frustration at, the EC has become an easy target. With these allegations, the opposition wants to set the narrative that the poll results aren’t accurate and have been tampered with. Leaders such as Rahul Gandhi and Mayawati will tarnish the name of an institution rather than face their own incompetence. If this is their reaction after just the exit polls, one shudders to imagine the lows they would sink to, if the accurate results turn out to be as unfavorable.