'You're Trying to Avoid Issue': In Reply to EC, Naidu's TDP Defends EVM Theft-Accused
The TDP chief had met EC officials to complain about the widespread EVM malfunctioning and violence during the first phase of voting in the state on April 11.
Tensions between the Telugu Desam Party and the Election Commission showed no signs of abating, a day after the EC pointed out that a man who faces a case of theft of voting machines was in party supremo and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s delegation to meet the poll chief.
The TDP on Sunday accused the commission of trying to “avoid addressing the situation” that has arisen due to faulty voting machines. The response comes ahead of Sunday’s meeting of opposition leaders to discuss the issue of EVMs.
In a letter, the EC asked the TDP why Hari Prasad Vemuru, who faces a criminal case of theft in 2010, was part of Naidu’s team to the poll body's office. "When the discussions came to the issue of EVMs and their functioning, one of the delegates repeatedly raised various technical issues regarding functioning of EVM and said that he has the requisite technical expertise in the field... However, when this technical person came it turned out that he was Hari Prasad who was involved in a criminal case regarding alleged theft of EVM machine in 2010 in which FIR was filed in... Mumbai," the Election Commission said in its letter.
The party, in a rebuttal, said it “would like to state that instead of focusing on the issue, the Commission is trying to avoid the situation”. It added that no chargesheet was filed against Vemuru in the last nine years.
Naidu on Saturday met Election Commission officials to complain about widespread EVM malfunctioning and violence during the first phase of voting in the state on April 11. Raising questions on the poll panel's independence and impartiality, Naidu told reporters outside the EC headquarters that the level playing field — an essential attribute of democracy — "now stands disturbed". Recalling that all the opposition parties had demanded for 50 per cent matching of EVMs with VVPATs, Naidu said that increasing that number from one to five by the Supreme Court was "insufficient".
The Supreme Court, while hearing a petition by these parties, had directed the EC 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 court, however, did not agree to the demand by the parties for matching at least 50 per cent of the VVPAT slips with the EVMs.
The TDP president had earlier said he would march to Delhi to file a review petition in Supreme Court in connection with the voting held in first phase. "This is a very big farce. Disaster for the nation. I can say it is a big confusion, big mess, big farce," Naidu said in a restless tone. He claimed that as per "official information" 4,583 EVMs got stuck in the state and noted that it was a "major crisis".
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