Chandrababu Naidu asks EC for re-polling in 618 polling booths where EVMs malfunctioned

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Chandrababu Naidu asks EC for re-polling in 618 polling booths where EVMs malfunctioned

A day after accusing the Andhra Pradesh State Election Commission of “turning the elections into a big farce,” the states Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu met officials at the Election Commission of India seeking re-polling in 618 polling stations. The TDP chief in his letter has accused the state EC of bias and has raised questions on the EVMs used in the polls.

In a strongly worded and detailed letter, the TDP chief listed out the various instances where the party felt the state Election Commission failed to ensure a level playing field, make proper arrangements and facilitate voters of Andhra Pradesh. The party has demanded the EC to look into five issues. 

The party has called for re-polling in 618 polling stations where voting went beyond 6:00 PM, the last vote in the state was cast at 4:30 am the next day. The party claims due to malfunctioning of EVMs many people turned back from the polling stations and did not return to cast their vote.

The party has called for an inquiry into the large scale malfunctioning of EVMs by the ECI to establish the causes.

The AP CM is questioning if the One Time Programmable (OTP) chip used in the EVM machine can be duplicated and claims there were inconsistencies in the way the EVMs performed on the day of polls. 

“These inconsistencies should not arise when the same code is burnt on to the One Time Programmable (OTP) Chips. It shows that there is a possibility of changing the machine or chip or duplication of the motherboard inside the machine. This puts a question mark on the whole polling considering that 100% of polling is done on these machines, placing the democracy at risk,” wrote Naidu in his letter to Election Commission.

The TDP expressed apprehension that all the machines used in the recent polls were recalled by BEL for maintenance in December 2018. “It's not known what was done as a part of this maintenance,” read the letter. The party also expressed concern over the BEL contractual engineers as no background information was available on these engineers. The party claims there were multiple instances reported where EVM machines were changed by these engineers as they were not working and the new machines already had some voters recorded when they were installed.

It was earlier reported that Naidu is also expected to file a review petition in the Supreme Court for counting of at least 50% of the VVPAT slips. A demand made through a petition filed in the SC by 22 political parties. The SC then directed the ECI on April 8 to increase the random matching of the VVPAT slips with the EVMs to five polling booths per assembly segment, from one at present. The TDP has stressed on this demand of 50% counting of VVPATs and has sought clarification on the mechanism to proceed further if there is a discrepancy between the votes counted and the VVPAT slips.

After Naidu met with Sunil Arora, the CEC along with a delegation of ministers on Saturday, he alleged that the poll panel observer in the State was having links with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Earlier on Friday at a press conference in Amaravati, Naidu blasted the EC for insisting on the use of non-reliable technology such as EVMs and refusing to count VVPAT slips. The TDP leader had also questioned the EC about the qualification and credibility of technicians it recruited to repair the EVMs. "Who are these people? How were they recruited? What is the guarantee that these people are not doing any manipulation in the EVMs," he asked.

Naidu came down heavily on the poll panel for the transfer of officials including the Chief Secretary and alleged that it was all done to favour the YSR Congress Party. He reiterated that the EC shunted out the Kadapa Superintendent of Police as he was probing the murder of Y.S. Vivekananda Reddy, the uncle of YSRCP chief Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy.

He also asked the EC why it failed to give to the state police the IP addresses of those who tried to delete 7 lakh votes under a conspiracy and alleged that the poll panel shielded the criminals.

In his letter to the ECI, Naidu had asked for the supply of information regarding the IP addresses of the Form 7 applicants as requested by the AP state SIT for completion of the investigation.

(With IANS inputs)