Chandrababu Naidu demands repoll in 150 booths

Amaravati: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) President N. Chandrababu Naidu on Thursday demanded repoll in around 150 polling stations due to the non-functioning of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

In a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Naidu identified more than 150 polling booths in Andhra Pradesh and said, “I demand conduct of repoll in all the above polling stations and such other polling stations where the polling has not commenced even at 9.30 a.m. due to the failure of EVMs.”

Earlier in the day, Naidu had expressed his unhappiness over EVMs not functioning in several polling booths, including the one where state Chief Electoral Officer Gopal Krishna Dwivedi went to cast his vote. Polling was delayed at several places, Naidu told the media.

“A number of complaints are being received from the contesting candidates, the chief election agents and the media that EVMs in about 30 per cent of the polling stations are not functioning. Therefore, polling did not start even at 9.30 a.m. This is unfortunate and a large number of voters are going back disappointed. This is a severe blow to the electoral process.

“A large number of women and old persons are waiting in the hot sun as there are delays in the commencement of the poll and slow polling process. It is likely that many of the voters who returned may not come back for voting even if the polling is resumed after replacement/repair of the existing EVMs. Therefore, there is a need to order repoll in all the polling stations where polling has not commenced up to 9.30 am,” Naidu said in his letter.

Polling is underway in the state for the 175-member Assembly and 25 Lok Sabha seats.

Naidu said at least now the Election Commission should review its stand on EVMs.

“We have long been saying that there is scope for technical problems and manipulation in EVMs. Even technologically advanced countries are using ballot papers,” the TDP chief said.

He said that 22 political parties in the country demanded that at least the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips be counted. He did not agree with the Election Commission that counting of all VVPAT slips will take six days.

The Supreme Court on Monday directed the EC to increase the random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs to five polling booths per assembly segment, from one at present. The court, however, did not agree to the demand by the parties for matching at least 50 per cent of VVPAT slips with EVMs.

Naidu said they were planning to file a review petition for counting of at least 25 per cent of VVPAT slips.