A war of words broke out between the BJP and the Congress over the allegations levelled by a US-based self-proclaimed cyber expert on the credibility of electronic voting machines (EVMs).
Senior Congress leader and former Law Minister Kapil Sibal, who was present at the press interaction via video conference of the 'expert' Syed Shuja in London on Monday evening, demanded that the Election Commission (EC) probe the allegations.
Sibal said that he had attended the event in his personal capacity.
The BJP leaders took exception to Sibal's presence at the event in London, organised by the Indian Journalists Association (IJA), and described it as a “Congress-sponsored conspiracy” to “defame” Indian democracy and the EC.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also dismissed Sibal's claim and said that the Congress leader was intelligent enough to know the implications of his presence there.
Prasad claimed that Sibal had attended the event with a “deliberate design”.
Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday evening, Sibal recounted the allegations made by Shuja, who was granted asylum in the US in 2018 and demanded that the Modi government probe the sensational claims made by him.
Reading out an e-mail sent by Shuja to the IJA, Sibal said that besides claiming that the 2014 Lok Sabha elections were “rigged” and EVMs were “hacked”, the US-based expert had also claimed that he worked for the Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL)— the makers of EVMs.
“He (Shuja) claims that he worked for ECIL and that ECIL engaged and paid money to a company for working on next-generation EVMs. All that can be verified by the ECIL which has a lot of answering to do,” Sibal said adding that he had not decided to go public on the London event, but was forced to do so after Prasad's allegations.
“He (Shuja) also claimed that he was shot at and that his house was set on fire and his parents were burnt to death. Our only request is that his claims should be probed. If he is found to be lying then he should be dealt with accordingly,” said Sibal.
Sibal accused Prasad of trying to divert the issue and levelling allegations against the Congress instead of investigating the veracity of the charges made by Shuja.
“This issue is not connected to a political party. This issue is about democracy. The issue is about free and fair elections,” Sibal said.