Chandrababu Naidu meets HD Deve Gowda, Kumaraswamy over EVM issue
Confabulating with Gowda for over an hour in Bengaluru late Tuesday night after a meeting of opposition parties in New Delhi on the EVM issue earlier in the day, Naidu said 23 parties were raising the issue and demanding transparency and accountability.
Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu made a surprise visit to Bengaluru and met former prime minister HD Deve Gowda at his residence on Tuesday to discuss various issues, including EVMs, ahead of the counting of results on Thursday.
Earlier in the day, Naidu was a part of 22-member opposition delegation which met officials of the Election Commission (EC) to demand the verification of VVPAT slips of randomly-selected polling stations before the counting of votes for Lok Sabha election begins. The opposition’s move came following a meeting of several party leaders ahead of counting of votes and declaration of the Lok Sabha election results on Thursday.
Opposition leaders demanded that slips from Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) for the five selected booths in each assembly segment should be counted first. They also said that if any discrepancy is found during VVPAT verification, then all paper trail slips of all polling stations in an assembly segment should be counted and compared with Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) results.
Naidu landed in the Karnataka capital after Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy could not make it to New Delhi for a protest in the national capital by opposition parties to air suspicions over electronic voting machines (EVMs).
Kumaraswamy had to cancel his trip at the last minute as KC Venugopal, Congress general secretary in charge for the state, visited to discuss the exit polls and the likely outcome of the results in the state. The leaders discussed the likely outcome of the Lok Sabha polls and its impact on the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) alliance in the southern state.
After the meeting with Deve Gowda, Naidu reiterated the opposition’s demand over EVMs.
“What we are asking is that there is EVM, VVPAT and control unit. If they introduce a system where as soon as people press the button on the EVM a chit comes out and once the voter sees this they can put it in the ballot box. Why is the Prime Minister opposing this?” Naidu asked.
“You are seeing even today in Uttar Pradesh they are replacing EVMs. This is very unfortunate. Even the former president of India has also condemned it and said very clearly that it is the responsibility of the ECI (Election Commission of India), even SY Quraishi, the former CEC, condemned it,” he said.
The Telegu Desam Party chief was referring to a video circulating online purportedly showing manipulation of EVMs in strongrooms in Uttar Pradesh.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on its part, hit back at the opposition parties for questioning the credibility of EVMs and asked them to accept their defeat with grace if the people vote Prime Minister Narendra Modi back to power.
Deve Gowda said he was unable to go to New Delhi and praised Naidu for taking a lead role in this.
“My party was represented in the New Delhi protest. Chandrababu Naidu has taken the lead and from the beginning, he has been fighting this issue. There are many technical issues and I feel we should go back to the paper ballots,” he said.
Before his meeting with Deve Gowda, Naidu UPA chairperson met Sonia Gandhi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, NCP’s Sharad Pawar and CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury, among other leaders, to unite opposition parties against the BJP ahead of Lok Sabha results.
He also met opposition leaders, including Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav in the national capital and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samal Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati in Lucknow, on Saturday.