By Venkatachari Jagannathan
Chennai, Jan 3 (IANS) A day before Monday’s elections for All India Chess Federation (AICF) officer-bearers, the chess body’s Secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan and his supporters have raised serious concerns about the integrity and security of the online voting process.
On the other hand, the rival faction led by former AICF President P.R. Venketrama Raja have no objections to the online electoral process.
Listing out various concerns on the integrity of the online voting and counting system developed by a private company, Chauhan, in his January 1, 2021 mail to the AICF Election Officer K. Kannan, requested cancellation of virtual voting and conduct of the election and voting as per the provisions of the National Sports Development Code 2011.
Kannan is a retired judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
“When the Election Commission of India has the system of Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) where lakhs of people vote, nothing like that is being provided in this AICF elections where there are only 64 voters,” Chauhan told IANS.
According to him, the online voting system is developed by Zoho Corporation, a city based software company.
“When confirmations were provided for nominations filed, why not for voting which would offer the much needed comfort factor as well as proof in case of any legal dispute,” he said.
Chess Association of Uttaranchal President Dhiraj Singh Raghuvanshi, in a mail to Kannan, had requested generation of ‘one time password’ on selecting the candidate so that there will be a proof to whom the vote has been cast.
Chauhan also complained that it is not known where the election server will be located and who are the officials managing the same.
“The entire e-Voting system is under development and continuous changes are being made by the developer at his end as at January 1, 2021. We are not aware who is giving the instructions for the software developer,” he claimed.
For Chauhan and his supporters, the front end of the online voting process is fine but they are not comfortable with the process post voting.
“The voting and post voting system is not tamper proof is what we feel,” he said.
According to Chauhan and the Haryana Chess Association General Secretary Naresh Sharma, the rival faction’s Raja, who is standing for the post of President, has already engaged the services of Zoho for AICF’s email.
“They (Zoho) have not conducted any online elections till date. If at all, they have the sufficient infrastructure for the same, then they ought to give a demonstration of the same to the members of AICF. The members of AICF are clueless regarding the organisation which is conducting elections of a federation of national stature,” Sharma had written to Kannan.
“Regardless of these issues, we will fight and win the elections,” Chauhan said.
Meanwhile, the rival faction dismissed the concerns raised by Chauhan and his supporters as baseless and due to the fear of certain defeat.
“Their defeat is certain and hence they are finding the reasons for the same,” All Marathi Chess Association Secretary Vijay Deshpande, who is a part of the Raja camp, told IANS.
Fide Zone 3.7 President R.N. Dongre, who is contesting for the post of AICF Secretary against Chauhan, said: “We are sure of getting 36 votes out of 64.”
On the other hand, queried about the votes his team would get, Chauhan said: “We would get a minimum of 36 votes and win the polls.”
The electoral college for AICF consists of 32 state associations with each association having two votes.
As regards what the players are expecting from the new office-bearers, Grandmaster Abhijit Kunte who is also a Managing Committee Member of the Chess Players Forum, told IANS: “The new body should protect the players’ rights as listed out in the National Sports Development Code.”
He said owing to Covid-19 pandemic mid-level players, coaches and arbiters were put to a lot of hardship and they needed to be supported. With no tournaments held, they have lost their livelihood. The AICF can organise online prize money tournaments, he suggested.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at [email protected])