Two talking points that have dominated the discourse in the Gujarat election campaign this season are the GSPC scam and the rather frequent allegations of EVM tampering. While the former relates to a colossal loss of Rs. 20, 000 crores to the state-run Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation Limited (GSPC) with Modi as CM, the latter is related to questions on the integrity of the Electronic Voting Machines or EVMs. On the surface, these two are distinctly different issues, but as per a new report, they may as well be connected. The news portal which has published the report takes a long, hard look at the ownership patterns of Geo Global Resources—the biggest beneficiary of the GSPC scam—and an EVM microchip manufacturing company in the US.
But before we get into that, a brief background of the firm: Geo was named GSPC's technical partner, despite the firm not having any credentials in the field of oil exploration. In return for its services, the company was offered a 10% stake in GSPC. According to the report, Geo Global Resources (India) is a firm listed in Barbados. Its parent company Geo Global Resources Inc. is headquartered in Canada. The investigation further reveals that Geo Global Resources Inc. itself is a subsidiary of Key Capital Corp, which is a financial group in the US.
Microchip Inc is one of the manufacturers of the micro-controllers used in EVMs. The firm, which is headed by an NRI, also writes the software programme on the microchip, says the report. Now, the ownership patterns of Key Corp and Microchip Inc reportedly shows an astonishing similarity between the owners of the two companies. Based on this, the news portal seeks to ask the question whether this points towards a possibility of multi-national financial institutions exercising a direct control on India’s democracy through the EVMs. The portal also alleges that the chief beneficiaries of the GSPC scam are the owners of the microchip manufacturing company.
The report further adds that the Election Commission has “outsourced the procurement of the MCU or microchip to foreign vendors namely Renesas Japan and Microchip Inc, USA since no company in India had the sophisticated technology to produce microchips or MCU. However, for some reasons best known only to the EC, they also outsourced the task to write the source code on the microchip to these foreign vendors.” However, the alarming allegation is that the abovementioned “source code” can be tinkered by overseas companies to influence the EVMs and the counting of votes.
The Election Commission is one of the most venerable institutions in India. However, in recent times, several reports of EVMs malfunctioning in various parts of the country have brought to question the infallibility of the voting machines. This media report only adds to that ongoing chorus. Such frequent questions being raised on the EC do not augur well for an institution of its stature.