Amid an intense debate on whether electronic voting machines were tamper-proof, the Aam Aadmi Party on Tuesday held a "live demonstration" in the Delhi assembly on how the voting machines can be rigged, a claim trashed by the Election Commission, which said a "duplicate" gadget was hacked.
Participating in a discussion on the issue during the day-long special session of the Delhi assembly, AAP MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj dramatically claimed a voting machine can be manipulated by simply feeding it with a "secret code".
Using what his party claimed was a "prototype EVM" developed by "a group of IITians", Bhardwaj, himself an engineer, showed how it could be tampered with to favour a particular candidate.
After entering a "secret code", Bhardwaj pressed 10 votes for the AAP but the display panel of the machine showed the votes went to the Bharatiya Janata Party.
"We are not making baseless allegations on EVM manipulation. With this demonstration, it has been proved that EVMs can actually be hacked," Bhardwaj claimed.
"EVM manipulation is a very serious issue. It is a danger to the democracy of the country. There is no machine in the world which cannot be hacked," he said.
After a string of electotral reverses, including the recent ones in Goa, Punjab and the latest in Delhi municipal elections, the AAP has been insisting on scrapping EVMs and going back to ballot papers.
The Election Commission, however, rejected the claim of the Aam Aadmi Party that its EVMs can be tampered with, saying the machine hacked in the Delhi assembly was a "look-alike" gadget and not the actual equipment used by it.
"It is common sense that gadgets other than ECI-EVMs can be programmed to perform in a pre-determined way, but it simply cannot be implied that ECI-EVMs will behave in the same manner because they are technically secured and function under an elaborate administrative and security protocol," the commission said in a statement.
The "so-called" demonstration on "extraneous and duplicate gadgets" which are not owned by the EC "cannot be exploited to influence our intelligent citizens and electorate to assail or vilify the EVMs used by the commission in its electoral process," it added.
The BJP called the hack "demonstration" a "drama".
"It was a drama enacted by the AAP to divert attention of the public from the allegations of bribery and forgery in donations received by it," Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said.
Before Bhardwaj's demonstration, Kejriwal tweeted, "Saurabh Bhardwaj will reveal the truth behind a big conspiracy in the country. Satyameva Jayate".
Bhardwaj, who represents Greater Kailash constituency, claimed being an engineer he had extensively worked in that area and was aware of how the machines can be fiddled with.
The AAP's attempt to whip up the EVM issue in the state Assembly where it has 66 of the 70 seats, comes at a time when the party is in the eye of a political firestorm over its sacked minister Kapil Mishra's allegations of corruption against Kejriwal and minister Satyendar Jain.
Mishra, who was suspended from AAP's primary membership on Monday, mocked the exercise, saying the party should stop living in "denial" mode and accept the fact that people do not vote for Kejriwal anymore.
Kejriwal has repeatedly claimed that the AAP's poll debacles have something to do with tampering of EVMs.