Elon Musk's EVMs 'should be eliminated' tweet gets Rahul's nod, BJP's Chandrasekhar says happy to teach digital security

Chandrashekhar called Musk’s opinion 'a huge sweeping generalization statement that implies no one can build secure digital hardware.'
Last Updated : 16 June 2024, 07:05 IST

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Mumbai: Hours after Tesla boss Elon Musk called for 'elimination' of electronic voting machines, Congress leader and MP Rahul Gandhi backed it describing the EVMs as 'black box' away from scrutiny - triggering a fresh political row over EVMs-vs-ballot papers.

The ruling BJP has responded strongly with technocrat-politician and former minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar saying that he would be happy to run a tutorial for the serial investor.

Rahul Gandhi’s statement immediately got support from I.N.D.I.A. bloc leaders - Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Shiv Sena (UBT) MLA Aaditya Thackeray and Rajya Sabha member Priyanka Chaturvedi.

The war-of-words have broken out at a time when questions are being raised about the alleged irregularities during counting in the Mumbai North-West seat - around 10 days after the 18th Lok Sabha poll process drew to a close.

“We should eliminate electronic voting machines. The risk of being hacked by humans or AI, while small, is still too high,” said Elon Musk, the founder of X micro-blogging platform, SpaceX and co-founder of Tesla, Inc.

However, Musk’s comments on X was in response to a statement of American politician Robert F. Kennedy Jr, who was referring to the polls in Caribbean island territory of Puerto Rico where there are reports of irregularities related to EVMs.

Rahul Gandhi took to X to post concerns about the EVMs in response to Elon Musk’s statement and the issue involving the Mumbai North-West seat.

“EVMs in India are a "black box," and nobody is allowed to scrutinize them. Serious concerns are being raised about transparency in our electoral process. Democracy ends up becoming a sham and prone to fraud when institutions lack accountability,” said Gandhi.

Chandrashekhar, who is a former Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology in the Narendra Modi-government, said that Musk’s opinion was huge sweeping generalization statement that implies no one can build secure digital hardware.

“Elon Musk’s view may apply to US and other places - where they use regular compute platforms to build Internet-connected voting machines. But Indian EVMs are custom designed, secure and isolated from any network or media - no connectivity, no bluetooth, Wifi, Internet,” said Chandrashekhar, the chip designer, and cellular pioneer.

“EVMs can be architected and built right as India has done. We wud be happy to run a tutorial for Elon Musk,” he said.

However, to this Elon Musk responded saying - “anything can be hacked”.

Chandrashekar, however, then pointed out that: “Technically you are right…anything is possible for example with quantum compute, I can decrypt any level of encryption, with lab level tech and plenty of resources, iIcan hack any digital hardware/system including flight controls of a glass cockpit of a jet etc etc. But that's a different type of a conversation from EVMs being secure and reliable vis-a-vis paper voting. And we can agree to disagree.”

“Technology' is meant to solve problems, if it becomes the cause of problems then its use should be stopped. Today, when fears of EVM tampering are being expressed in many elections of the world and the world's renowned technology experts are openly writing about the danger of EVM tampering, then what is the reason behind the insistence on using EVM, BJP should clarify this. We reiterate our demand that all future elections be conducted using ballot papers,” said Yadav, a former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister.

In a lighter vein, Aaditya, the son of former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray said: “Entirely Compromised”, not the “Election Commission” is what the new meaning of EC mean…

"What’s the bet that the X account of Elon Musk will be sent a notice to close down by the Union Government or EC?," Thackeray said.

Published 16 June 2024, 07:05 IST

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