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EVM ‘Hacking’ Controversy: Meet Ravindra Waikar, Shiv Sena MP from Mumbai North West

A political storm erupted after a report by Mid-Day newspaper claimed that a relative of Shiv Sena candidate Ravindra Waikar in the Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency was caught using a mobile phone “connected” to an electronic voting machine (EVM) during vote counting on June 4.Opposition parties, including Congress, questioned the integrity of EVMs, […]

A political storm erupted after a report by Mid-Day newspaper claimed that a relative of Shiv Sena candidate Ravindra Waikar in the Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency was caught using a mobile phone “connected” to an electronic voting machine (EVM) during vote counting on June 4.Opposition parties, including Congress, questioned the integrity of EVMs, while the Bharatiya Janata Party criticized the opposition for spreading what they termed as misinformation and urged the Election Commission of India to take action against those propagating the false report.

On Sunday, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, among others, cited a post by Elon Musk, chairman of social media platform X and CEO of Tesla, where he suggested eliminating EVMs due to the high risk of hacking.

Contrary to the report, Vandana Suryavanshi, the returning officer for the Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency, labeled the Mid-Day article as “false news” and announced that a defamation notice had been issued to the publication. She emphasized that EVMs are standalone, non-programmable devices without wireless communication capabilities.

Who is Ravindra Waikar?

Ravindra Dattaram Waikar contested the 2024 Lok Sabha elections as a Shiv Sena candidate under the leadership of Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. He narrowly won the Mumbai North West seat by 48 votes. Previously a close ally of Uddhav Thackeray, Waikar came under scrutiny by central agencies and joined Shinde’s faction on March 10.

Political Background

Waikar served three terms as an MLA from Jogeshwari East before becoming an MP. He began his political career as a corporator in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), where he served four terms and chaired the BMC standing committee from 2006 to 2009.

Ministerial Roles

Waikar held ministerial positions in both the BJP-Shiv Sena coalition and the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.

Financial Allegations

Waikar faced multiple allegations of financial misconduct. In 2016, Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam accused him of unlawfully acquiring a public plot at Aarey Milk Colony and constructing a gymnasium with legislator funds. In 2020, BJP leader Kirit Somaiya alleged financial dealings involving the Thackeray and Waikar families, including the purchase of 21 plots in Kolai village, Murud taluka in Raigad from Anvay Naik and his family. Anvay Naik and his mother committed suicide in 2018, according to The Indian Express.

Education and Assets

Waikar holds a graduate degree and lists his professions as business and receiving a government salary and allowances. His election affidavit reveals total assets of ₹54.5 crore and liabilities of ₹4.5 crore, with an annual income of ₹46.9 lakh.

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EVM ‘Hacking’ ControversyRavindra WaikarShiv Sena MP