Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu had been on a "Stop BJP" mission even before the polls got over. But his only meeting on Monday-- the morning after exit polls predicted a comfortable victory or the BJP -- with Mamata Banerjee, holds a hint of concern. "We will discuss politics," Mr Naidu had said ahead of his visit to Kolkata. Then he added, "We even requested her to come to Delhi for meeting the Election Commission".
While there was no word from him after the meeting, Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress said the opposition parties are meeting the Election Commission tomorrow to express their concerns about Electronic voting machines.
Yesterday, after the national elections concluded, exit polls predicted a comeback for the BJP - the range was wide, from a secure majority to a landslide win. An aggregate of exit polls also indicated that Jaganmohan Reddy, Mr Naidu's arch-rival in Andhra Pradesh, will win 15 of the state's 25 seats while he got only 10.
Both Mr Naidu and Mamata Banerjee have rubbished the exit polls' claim. Ms Banerjee called it "gossip", but in a tweet, also said "The game plan is to manipulate or replace thousands of EVMs through this gossip".
On Monday, Mr Naidu said the Election Commission should establish transparency and accountability, and questioned why it is not conducting 50 per cent counting of the slips from VVPAT (Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail machines).
"Now we are asking -- if there is any discrepancy then you have to go for total counting of that assembly segment. Why you are delaying? Why you are avoiding?" he said.
Pointing out that "people are all over the world are talking of EVM manipulation", Mr Naidu said all EVMs should be attached to VVPAT machines.
"We are asking that there is an EVM, there is VVPAT... Whenever you press EVM (button), the printer will print a ballot indicating a name and the choice of party symbol. The voter can take and check and deposit it in the ballot box," he said.
The controversy over EVMs has been continuing since the 2017 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, in which the BJP had won a sweeping victory. The opposition claims -- that the EVMs are tweaked to ensure that all votes go to the BJP -- have continued despite the Election Commission's assurances that the machines cannot be tampered with and a challenge to hack into one.
In his blog on Monday, Union Minister Arun Jaitley wrote: "Exit Polls are based on personal interviews. The EVMs have no role. If the results of the Exit Polls and final results on the 23rd May, 2019 are in the same direction, the Opposition's fake issue of the EVMs would also lose its non-existent rationale."
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