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Published On: Mon, May 20th, 2019

Opposition leaders will meet the ECI tomorrow to flag their concerns about EVM

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NEW DELHI : The Opposition parties will meet the top Election Commission officials over their suspicion of manipulation of EVMs on May 21 – two days ahead of the counting of votes of the 2019 Lok Sabha election on May 23.
According to sources , TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Sharad Pawar and several leaders from Congress, Samajwadi Party, BSP, RJD etc will be part of the opposition delegation meeting the poll panel officials on Tuesday.

The parties took a call on the move after exit polls yesterday predicted an easy victory for the BJP and its allies. The outlook for the opposition parties was dismal, with most predictions maintaining the regional parties would do badly. The broad national coalition against the BJP will win no more than 122 seats, indicated an aggregate of 13 exit polls.
Naidu along with 21 opposition party leaders will meet the Election Commission officials around 3 pm on Tuesday. Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress will also be part of the opposition delegation. The party has confirmed that its Rajya Sabha MP Derek ‘O’ Brien will represent TMC in the delegation of opposition parties meeting the EC officials.
According to sources, leaders from Congress, TDP, Left parties, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Trinamool Congress (TMC) will also informally meet to discuss the way forward in case the BJP-led NDA fails to get to the majority mark.
Ahmed Patel and Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress, Sharad Pawar of the NCP, N Chandrababu Naidu of the TDP, Satish Chandra Misra of the BSP, Sitaram Yechury of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), D Raja of the Communist Party of India (CPI) and Derek O’Brien of the TMC are expected to take part in Tuesday’s meeting among others.
Chandrababu Naidu, who met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at her residence on Monday as part of his efforts to cobble a non-BJP coalition post-poll, has requested the TMC chief to come to Delhi after May 23. Naidu is one of the top opposition leaders to have voiced their suspicion about the alleged manipulation of EVMs.
If reports are to be believed, the political parties are now busy protecting the EVM machines as there were rumours that data stored was being changed using a frequency. The TDP chief has claimed that manipulating an electronic voting machine was as easy as tapping a phone and reiterated his demand for 50 per cent voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) verification in the Lok Sabha polls.
Time and again exit polls have failed to catch the People’s pulse. Exit polls have proved to be incorrect and far from ground reality in many instances. While undoubtedly TDP govt will be formed in AP, we are confident that non-BJP parties will form a non-BJP govt at the center.
We reiterate our demand to the ECI to count VVPATs in at least 50% of polling stations. VVPATs should be counted in 5 polling stations in each Assembly Constituency at the beginning of counting process. In case of discrepancy, all VVPATs of Assembly Constituency shall be counted.
His statement comes in the wake of exit polls forecasting another term for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with some of them projecting that the BJP-led NDA will get more than 300 seats to comfortably cross the majority mark of 272 in the Lok Sabha.

At a press conference, Naidu, “There are various rumours. Some in Delhi say they are placing new EVMs and new control units. When asked how, they say they are doing it. Some say we changed all votes (in EVMs) using frequency from outside. That was what they were talking in the bazaar (market). “”As such, all political parties are now busy in protecting the EVMs,” Naidu said.
“Political parties are now thinking how to protect EVMs. They think if they sit there (near the strong rooms), nobody will take away the EVMs. They may not take away the EVMs but what if they change (data) through frequency? Chances of taking away EVMs are less but chances of changing the data through frequency are more,” Naidu claimed. He said Rs 9,000 crore was spent on procuring the VVPATs.
Former Chief Election Commissioners of India, Sri Navin Chawla & Sri S. Y. Quraishi also support the demands put forth by us regarding VVPAT verification. “Are heavens going to fall if it takes six more hours for counting VVPATs? When we waited for 73 days (completion of polling process), can’t we wait for two more days? The administration has come to a standstill for 73 days,” Naidu alleged.
It may be recalled that almost all top opposition leaders have rejected the Exit Poll Surveys and said that they will wait for the actual counting of votes on May 23.
Most parties have pointed out that the exit polls usually don’t get it right, leaders like Mamata Banerjee had also said such exit polls were cue to “manipulate or replace thousands of EVMS”.

Today, 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).
After the 2017 assembly elections during which the BJP came to power in Uttar Pradesh, most opposition parties had complained that the EVMs had been tweaked to favour the BJP. Leaders like Mayawati and Arvind Kejriwal had even called for a return to ballot boxes.But negating the claim, the Election Commission had said parties tended to blame the EVMs whenever they lost an election.

Meanwhile, as part of his efforts to unite the opposition, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP leader N Chandrababu Naidu held a meeting with his West Bengal counterpart, Mamata Banerjee, at her Kolkata residence on forming a non-BJP government at the Centre in case of a hung verdict.
Chandrababu Naidu had a 45-minute meeting with Mamata Banerjee on the future strategies of the “Mahagathbandhan” (Grand Alliance), during which he also discussed the possibilities of forming a non-BJP government, including regional parties, with the support of the Congress. (With Agency Inputs ).

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