Mayawati trolled for blaming electronic voting machines

BSP, SP, Congress and RLD together poll 52% of the votes in UP even as Mayawati blames manipulation of Electronic Voting Machines for BJP’s landslide victory

Photo by Sushil Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Sushil Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

NH Political Bureau

Bahujan Samaj Party, according to the Election Commission of India’s website, polled 22.2% votes in Uttar Pradesh compared to 39.7% votes by the BJP. The BSP in fact polled more than the Samajwadi Party (21.9%) and a lot more than the Congress (6.2%).

While several political observers during the day predicted the end of caste-based parties and of identity politics, the vote share tells a different tale. Twitter was particularly harsh on Mayawati after she raised doubts about tampering of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) at a press conference in Lucknow. She was trolled on Twitter by people asking whether she believed the EVMs were manipulated in Delhi, Bihar and Punjab as well.

Undeterred, the BSP chief demanded an independent inquiry by ‘foreign experts’ into her charge. “Isn’t it difficult to swallow that BJP, which did not field a single Muslim candidate, won seats in even Muslim dominated areas,” she wondered aloud, and voiced her belief that the EVMs were manipulated to register votes cast for other parties also in favour of the BJP. “Whichever button the voters pressed,” she said, “I have reasons to believe that the EVMs were programmed to divert a substantial number of them to the BJP”.

She cited media reports from Mumbai to buttress her point. There were reports, she recalled, that in the Mumbai Municipal Corporation election a candidate was shown to have secured zero votes although he and his family members claimed to have voted for him. There were also reports that several EVM machines were recovered from the house of one of the candidates.

BJP national president Amit Shah refused to comment on the allegation saying, “I do not want to comment because I understand how she must feel.” But a section of the Twitteratti pointed out how BJP leaders had also questioned the EVMs earlier. Both Lal Krishna Advani and Prakash Javadekar had claimed in 2009 that prominent technocrats believed that the machines could be manipulated.

Observers, however, scoff at the possibility of any large scale manipulation of the machines, even if it is possible to programme them to behave in a certain way. A long-time observer of Uttar Pradesh and BSP, Prof Sudha Pai told NH, “I do not think there was anything wrong with the machine. Her defeat is because BJP has been able to mop-up most of the non-Jatavs Dalits.”

She went on to add, “BJP has been working silently in eastern UP for a long time. There has been a long term trend of being able to take over Dalits, Hinduise them and bring them into the BJP. Also, Dalits too are attracted by the notion of development.”

Identity politics, she felt, is no longer as relevant as it was in the past. “There has been a steady weakening of identity politics since the year 2000’, she explained, which is why Dalits are open to look beyond Mayawati.

“But I won’t write her off. That would be a big mistake. I think she now needs to work out how to bring development and identity together. It is a very complex task but if she is able to do that, she still has a future,” Pai added.

Caste still is a reality. Caste discrimination is also a reality. And Dalit assertion is also a reality. But it is also true that the younger generation among Dalits are also looking beyond identity and for development.

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