To prevent the possibility of rigging the upcoming Punjab Assembly by-election from Moga, Congress Working Committee member and former MP Jagmeet Singh Brar has urged the Election Commission to deploy only those Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) that had been provided with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Train (VVPAT) system for the polling scheduled for February 23.

Talking to reporters here, Mr Brar said he had written to the Commission as well as the Union Law Minister highlighting that on January 17 last year the Delhi High Court had ruled that the EVMs were not tamper proof. On January 22 this year, the Commission through its counsel had submitted before the Supreme Court that EVMs which were equipped with VVPAT system had been tested in 180 polling stations. As per the Commission's assurance, the augmented EVMs should be used for the Moga by-election, he demanded.

Mr Brar claimed information that Akali Dal through hackers had broken into the EVM software and breached the source code. He said that as the manufacturing of the EVMs had been outsourced, the multi-national companies had access to “Fusing software” as well as the source code, which were not available to the Election Commission.

Questioning the much touted “managerial skills” of the Akali Dal president and Deputy Chief Minister, Sukhbir Singh Badal, that returned a series of electoral victories, Mr Brar charged the former with having mastered the art of bringing into play an entire gamut of corrupt practices. He said that a vigilant Commission would help the “determined” people of Moga to dispel the “myth” about Sukhbir's winning formula.

Mr Brar said that by encouraging defection of a sitting MLA and adopting him as the party candidate for the by-election, even a stalwart like the five-time Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had set a unique precedent in “not good politics”. However, he dissociated himself from a similar tactic which had been adopted by the Congress Government under Mr. Amarinder Singh, which had managed the defection of two MLAs of its alliance partner then, the CPI.

Though Joginderpal Jain's defection amounted to betrayal of trust of the electorate of Moga, who would “teach him the hardest ever political lesson”, Mr Brar said that development did not impact the Congress as a party. He said that the party stood strong on the commitment and loyalty of its workers. “Only traders had deserted, the genuine party workers were not deterred,” he said.

However, in response to a query, Mr Brar accepted the need for a rethink on the policy and practice of allotting party tickets to such “traders”. He said that “win-ability” of a candidate should not be the sole criteria and it should not be given credence over loyalty and commitment to the party programme as well as social stature of the individual.

Mr Brar denied any factional feud that would spoil the chances of Vijay Saathi, who is the party's nominee at Moga. He disclosed the plan to approach patron of the Sanjha Morcha Surjit Singh Barnala, People's Party of Punjab chief Manpreet Singh Badal, CPI leader Joginder Dayal and CPI(M)'s secretary of the State council Jagroop Brar to put up a united front against the “unholy” Akali Dal-BJP alliance.