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Amid Allegations Of Data Theft, Nara Lokesh Says YSRCP Trying to Poach His Party Members

Nara Lokesh, the son of Andhra Pradesh chief minister and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu, said it was no coincidence that his party workers were getting phone calls now, something which has never happened before.

Aishwarya Kumar | News18.com@aishwaryak03

Updated:March 11, 2019, 2:25 PM IST
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Amid Allegations Of Data Theft, Nara Lokesh Says YSRCP Trying to Poach His Party Members
Nara Lokesh, son of Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu. (Image courtesy: naralokesh.com)
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New Delhi: Amid raging debates on the alleged data theft by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) through IT Grinds India Pvt Ltd, the software company which created the in-house ‘Seva Mitra’ app, Andhra Pradesh minister Nara Lokesh has said his party’s opponent YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) has started making calls to TDP members to explore the option of them “moving out” of the party.

In an exclusive interview with News18, Lokesh, the son of Andhra Pradesh chief minister and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu, said it was no coincidence that his party workers were getting phone calls now, something which has never happened before. Here are the edited excerpts of the interview:

What exactly is the data which is available on the Seva Mitra app?

The information was based on publicly available data via a voter list, which includes name, father’s name, age and gender. The Seva Mitra App has the option to add various attributes to the existing information, such as the caste, phone number, welfare schemes and voter orientation. This helps us focus on swing voters and neutral voters, to whom we can then reach out and motivate to vote for TDP. This is something that every political party does. Some do it with a book and pen, but we at TDP are not new to technology, except that now it’s more structured and via phone apps.

There is nothing on the app that’s required to win an election. There is no secret data, it’s all in the public domain and it’s for the purpose of governance. The party did everything to ensure there were no hacks — proxy servers, multiple layers of protection, etc. We were prepared for everything, but then someone physically appearing and lifting your server which has data, is not something you can possibly prepare for. So far, we had no breaches, whatsoever. But a government came and physically stole our servers. I can’t protect (data) against police force.

Is there any credible proof that YSRCP and KCR conspired against your party to make allegations of data theft?

Our party members, area conveners and booth members have started receiving phone calls from YSRCP asking them whether they would like to meet Jagan Mohan Reddy. I have recordings. Our entire organisation structure is with them. On February 23, Telangana Police raided the office of the IT firm and initially we thought it’s based on some complaint. The irony of the whole episode is that it took them more than a week to file the FIR. After that, the phone calls started coming. Basically, they had more than a week to scrap off data. This has never happened in the past — our karyakartas never got phone calls or letters in the past from another party. How is it happening now? It’s a bit too much of a coincidence to happen. I haven’t checked whether calls are coming in from KCR and his party.

So you believe this is just political vendetta at play?

Several of our members were being asked not to contest. And now, what is the message that they want to send by raiding an IT company which has 10-12 other clients? Isn’t this political vendetta? The data is not from Telangana and the EC has clarified that the data has not been stolen. Even the Principal Secretary of the government of Andhra Pradesh has said data has not been stolen. Then on what basis have the commissioners and bureaucracy of Telangana decided to take this step? For someone to take action, there has to be a crime, right? This is them working towards getting an edge in the elections.

How strong do you feel is the influence of the BJP in the entire episode?

Hyderabad is supposed to be the joint capital of both AP and Telangana. The law and order is in the hands of the governor and he is supposed to monitor this. When Jagan was attacked, the governor called and checked on him personally. But now, when so much has happened and an entire political party is being targeted, the governor is least bothered. So it obviously raises questions

Is the TDP on the backfoot post this episode?

It’s a challenge. It’s very sad that a state’s sovereignty is in question because of someone’s mischief. Today it has happened to me and tomorrow it can happen to anyone. It definitely puts a lot of strain on us in terms of losing our entire data. Plus they are trying to swing certain leadership at the grassroots level. But the TDP is strong, resilient. We will definitely win because people are with us.​
| Edited by: Zoya Mateen
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