Lok Sabha elections 2019: 178 Nizamabad independents want polls in phase 2, say symbols not allotted
The polling for Nizamabad parliamentary constituency in Telangana, where a record number of 185 candidates are in fray, is going to be a gigantic exercise for the election authorities.
The Election Commission has decided to go ahead with the elections on April 11 using electronic voting machines (EVMs) instead of ballot papers, which were used on earlier occasions when there were large number of contestants.
For the first time, the EC adopted a new technology in which as many as 12 EVMs are linked to one control unit. The EVMs are arranged in “L” shaped in the voting compartment. Each EVM will have a maximum of 16 names of candidates and their respective symbols.
“In all, as many as 27,185 EVMs, 3,530 control units and 3,651 VVPATs have been deployed across 1,788 polling stations in the Nizamabad constituency. In the history of the Indian elections since the advent of EVMs, this is for the first time that such a huge number of EVMs are being deployed,” chief electoral officer Rajat Kumar said.
Kumar visited Nizamabad on Friday to explain the mechanism of conduct of the elections using such a large number of EVMs without any hassle.
Out of 185 contestants, as many as 178 farmers filed nominations to highlight their demand for remunerative prices for turmeric and red jowar crops. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s daughter K Kavitha is seeking a second term from Nizamabad, which has a total number of 1.5 million voters.
The farmers who filed their papers as independents are crying foul, as many of them were not aware what election symbols they were allotted. “We were asked to select one of the three symbols available in the list as free symbols. But so far, I have no clue as to what my election symbol is. Hardly three days are left for the closure of campaign,” said D Ashok Reddy, of Mupkal village, who filed his nomination as independent.
Expressing similar concern, another contestant farmer K Raja Reddy of Jagityal said he was told he was allotted “triangle” symbol, but he was not given any specimen of the symbol so far, which is mandatory as per the EC rules. “Majority of the rural voters are uneducated. They can identify the contestant only through his symbol as they cannot read the name on the EVM,” he argued.
On Thursday, the farmers moved the high court requesting that the elections to Nizamabad seat be postponed to second phase, so that they could be allotted symbols and also have sufficient time for the campaign. The case is posted to Monday for further hearing.
“We also requested the court to order that the polling be conducted using ballot papers, rather than EVMs,” Ashok Reddy said.
The CEO, however, denied the allegations and said all the independent candidates were duly intimated about the symbols allotted to them, as per their choice. The EC will submit to the high court all the records of all the symbols allotted to independents, he said.
Senior high court advocate B Rachana Reddy, who is arguing for the farmers, said the conduct of elections using such a huge number of EVMs would be a cumbersome process.
“In each polling station, 12 EVMs are arranged in “L” shape. It will take at least four to five minutes for each voter to cast his vote, as he has to move from one EVM to another to locate the symbol of the contestant, out of 185 symbols, to press the button,” she pointed out.