Later this month, Telangana will vote for 12 new MLAs. These are vacancies created by politicians who resigned in protest over what they describe as the lack of support from the Centre and the state government for a separate Telangana state.
There's no shortage of candidates. The Warangal (West) constituency alone has 117 candidates. All but one are independent candidates. It's not just a desire to serve the people that's at play. Sources say parties want to ensure that Electronic Voting Machines (EVM), famous for being tamper-proof, cannot be used. An EVM can deal with a maximum of 64 nominations. Hence, the surging numbers.
The party that's alleged to be pushing this agenda is the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), headed by Chandrasekhar Rao. The TRS refused to comment on the accusations. It has, however, appealed to the Congress and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), to not field any candidates. But they didn't oblige.
Narasimha, a candidate, says politicians' antipathy for EVMs has nothing to do with the fact that they can't be manipulated. "Many countries like USA, Japan came to ballot paper after problems arose with EVMs. In our country also we need this. That is the main reason for so many nominees."
The last date for withdrawal of nominations is Monday, July 12. Officials of the Election Commission say the pressure tactics won't work. "There is no problem. There have been cases where large number of nominations were received but elections were conducted," says IV Subba Rao, Chief Electoral Officer, Andhra Pradesh.