After Madhu Kishwar raised the question of Smriti Irani's educational qualifications, the internet has been busy. It seems she has submitted different details at different times. Notably her affidavit for Lok Sabha Election 2004 from Chandni Chowk said she was a B.A. (1996) [page sc5] from Delhi University (School of Correspondence) in 2004 and for Rajya Sabha, Smriti Irani's 2011 affidavit states B.Com. Part 1 [page 10] and the same in affidavit for Lok Sabha Election 2014 from Amethi.
Basically, it is all very exciting, but I don't think it amounts to much, as the lie is more likely to be her earlier affidavit from 2004 Chandni Chowk, which if I remember correctly, she lost to Kapil Sibal, so she can hardly get disqualified from that and it is too late anyway. My guess is that she would have the documents for this one ready to give whoever so much as raises an eyebrow, so I think that this is at best a curiosity exercise.
At best it is an embarrassment that the MP no handling education has a history of faking educational qualifications on an election affidavit.
This may not be such a bad thing from my Point of View, which is very interested in people in charge of education actually understanding the plight of alternatively schooled people and homeschoolers who can face professional prejudice over these pieces of paper which rarely return well educated citizens anyway.
Update: Several people have informed me that Section 125A of the Representation of People Act, 1951 says that false affidavit by candidate has 6 months jail punishment. This may be true. I have not verified, but it is unclear who is going to prosecute, and I doubt the government will give permission. Also, unsure if a wrong affidavit can be prosecuted 10 years later or if there is some time frame when it can be challenged. Someone with more legal knowledge is probably better qualified to comment on this than me.
That Electronic Voting Machines are not tamper proof has been well established, including by the High Court of Delhi judgment on the Public Interest Litigation filed by Dr. Subramanian Swamy in 2012. There have been previous suspicions of Electoral Fraud by rigging Electronic voting machines. Notable among these are the article by Dr. Subramanian Swamy in the year 2000 that pointed out disproportionate votes to BJP in constituencies with Electronic Voting Machines as compared with Constituencies polled using paper ballot. In the year 2000, Swamy had alleged that the widespread use of EVMs was a part of the RSS plan and provided some numbers to prove his allegation:
Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) will be used in all the constituencies. Perhaps it is then easier to rig the outcome. After all, in the 1999 general elections, the BJP and its allies won 34 out of the 45 Lok Sabha constituencies which had EVMs. On that ratio, the NDA should have won 405 se ats of the 544 Lok Sabha constituencies and not 292. EVMs have to be programmed by an engineer to tabulate the votes in its memory. It can easily be programmed to transfer votes of one candidate to another, or one party to another. The EVMs are entirely unsafeguarded today. I suspect it was rigged in the 1999 general elections.
Independently in 2009, Dr Anupam Saraph, the chief information officer of Pune, appointed by the Pune Municipal Corporation and an advisor to the United Nations and Dr Madhav Nalapath, an expert on geopolitics, who had planned to track the elections found excel files on the Election Commission's website on the 6th of May 2009 - 9 days before the polling ended on 15th May and 10 days before vote counting began. This data was further updated on the 8th and 11th before the final results. The Election Commission dismissed this finding as dummy data. However it is unlikely that dummy data would get updated or that dummy data would reflect trends accurately in 180 constituencies. More information, including the updated xls file versions here.
The video refutes several claims of security made by the Election Commission and is a must watch for every Indian voter.
Also in 2010, we saw Narendra Modi and BJP accused of EVM rigging when it turned out that machines used to poll votes had not been supplied by the EC and there were reports of votes cast for the Congress resulting in the light for BJP being lit. After polling by 44 people, one machine registered 111 votes.
Subramanian Swamy had tweeted that several machines had been rigged.
However, this is the tip o the iceberg. The video makes it clear that rigging is possible in ways that are less easily detectable - for example, transferring a certain percentage of the votes after a certain number of votes have been cast - so that it is more difficult to detect - there is virtually no trail.
India's Deputy Commissioner, Alok Shukla had told BBC, "It is not just the machine, but the overall administrative safeguards which we use that make it absolutely impossible for anybody to open the machine." ... "Before the elections take place, the machine is set in the presence of the candidates and their representatives. These people are allowed to put their seal on the machine, and nobody can open the machine without breaking the seals." However, this is not true.
The researchers state that the seals are easy to tamper with. But these are still possibilities. Less easy to dismiss are concrete incidents.
The returning officer, in the case where the EVM was found transferring all votes to BJP said "These EVMs were here for long. Usually, EVMs are kept in the custody of the deputy commissioner and during elections they are taken to strong rooms."
Congress candidate Sanjay Nirupam, who lost with a big margin alleged EVM tampering as well. “Congress candidates have been defeated in Gujarat, Maharshtra and Uttar Pradesh with massive leads, which is not possible. The contract of the EVM had been given to a multi-national company based in Gujarat. This in itself is suspicious,” Nirupam alleged.
Less ambiguous is the situation in Varanasi, which all media except Indian Express have studiously ignored. A day before the Varanasi polls, Awadesh Kumar Srivastava, a divisonal audit officer in the Rural Engineering Department, was given charge of two additional EVMs, to be used as replacements. Srivastava took the EVMs home, instead of keeping them in the allotted sector headquarters as required. Srivastava’s son clicked photographs of himself and his father with the EVMs. He uploaded these photographs on Facebook, with the comment “Ab ki baar, Modi Sarkar”.
I am currently trying to trace this newspaper. If you know please comment below. Better copy of print will also be appreciated. It can also be mischief, but the headlines are certainly serious enough to investigate. [update: It seems it may be a clipping from Amar Ujala. However, which edition and date is unclear. Still trying to confirm.]
Other issues include reports of booth capturing, presence of Rahul Gandhi in polling booth and accusations of EVM rigging and demands for re-polling by BJP as well.
Considering the scale of Indian Elections and the significant number of situations where EVM fraud can be considered likely, this should be looked into by the Supreme Court and the Election set aside and re-election should be conducted using ballot paper in the interests of protecting the voice of the people if need be.
Update: Since then, BJP has also been accused of rigging EVMs in Civic polls in Maharashtra with some instances of more votes being counted than votes cast, allegations of tampering in the Pune Civic polls as well as in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. Videos have also emerged of a woman alleging booth capturing in UP where women voters were told that the EVM wasn't working, while their votes were cast in favor of BJP instead of BSP. The EC which could easily verify the paper trails and investigate complaints shows no inclination to do so.