- Chandrababu Naidu met Chief Election Commissioner in Delhi
- He is demanding re-polling in nearly 150 stations over EVM glitches
- He has threatened protest if there is no positive response from poll body
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu flew down to Delhi to meet officials of the Election Commission to take his protests over allegation that 30 to 40 per cent of voting machines in his state did not work properly on Thursday, the first day of the national election. He has threatened a sit-in if there is no positive response from the election watchdog.
Hours later, the EC wrote to the TDP asking why a man who faces a criminal case of EVM theft in 2010 was in Mr Naidu's delegation today. "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 EC said in the letter.
"...This is completely intriguing as to how a so called expert with these antecedents was allowed to be a part of the delegation being led by Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu... It was not found appropriate to have any interaction with Hari Prasad," the EC said in the letter.
Mr Naidu, who demanded a re-poll in nearly 150 polling stations due to non-functioning of electronic voting machines (EVMs), accused the election body of working on the instructions of the government.
"The Election Commission is an autonomous body. At the same time, they are working on instructions of (PM) Modi and the government of India," he told reporters after the meeting. "Election Commission is not cooperating with us," he said.
Mr Naidu was accompanied by lawmakers and senior leaders of his Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
"This is a very big farce. Disaster for the nation. I can say it is a big confusion, big mess, big farce," Mr Naidu said on Friday. He claimed that as per "official information" 4,583 EVMs got stuck in the state and said it was a "major crisis.
"On the day of polling, Mr Naidu wrote to the Election Commission demanding re-polling. He had earlier claimed that even the voting machines at a polling booth where state Chief Electoral Officer Gopal Krishna Dwivedi went to cast his vote were not functioning.
The Chief Minister also hit out at the Election Commission over the appointment of the state Chief Secretary, alleging that the latter was a "co-accused with Jagan (Reddy)" in the disproportionate assets case.
The TDP chief, who faces a tough fight from Jagan Reddy, also said he would file a review petition in the Supreme Court over its order on counting of VVPAT slips.
25 parliamentary seats and 175 assembly seats in Andhra Pradesh voted in the first phase of the national election. A relatively low turnout of 66 per cent was recorded compared to last time's high of 78.8 per cent.