Continuing to demand that 50% of the voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) slips should be matched with 50% of the votes in electronic voting machines (EVMs), Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu on Wednesday asked why the Election Commission of India (ECI) was not agreeing to it if EVMs are believed to be working perfectly.
Naidu also took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, rhetorically asking if a separate set of rules apply for Modi, who Naidu said made “objectionable" statements which the ECI is ignoring, “Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled states seem to have different rules from non-BJP ruled states. The model code of conduct doesn’t seem to apply to the prime minister, who is talking about Balakot (the air strike), deceased army men etc," Naidu said, while addressing a press conference on Wednesday at Amaravati.
Stating that Modi is “frustrated", Naidu said that the former has “degraded" the prime minister’s post, unlike previous incumbents like Jawaharlal Nehru, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh. “He wants a new dress during breakfast, lunch, and for the evening every day. The opposition will come together and choose a prime minister after we come to a consensus (after winning the elections)," Naidu asserted.
Expressing his doubts about the functioning of EVMs, Naidu said that over 30 countries across the world have reverted to ballot paper. “Since a full paper trail (of VVPAT) could be time-consuming, we are asking for 50% only. The Supreme Court, however, said five EVMs per assembly seat should be counted if any discrepancy is found in a machine. And as per the rules, it is the count of the paper trail that will be taken as the final count if there is any mismatch," Naidu explained.
The AP chief minister also questioned the security of the EVMs in strong rooms, asking how the ECI could monitor 1.5 million machines across the country. “Once in five years you are using EVMs. Where do you keep them? Without answering all these things, the ECI is doing tamasha. Our demand is to have 50% VVPAT counting. We are saying if there is a problem (mismatch between EVM and VVPAT), the entire assembly segment should be recounted. If you are confident, then why not?" Naidu said.
Ever since the AP assembly and Lok Sabha polls were held on 11 April (single phase), Naidu has been alleging that various issues had cropped up during polling with regard to EVMs. AP did, in fact, witness snags in many places, where malfunctioning EVMs led to delays at polling booths. The state also witnessed poll violence that led to the death of a Telugu Desam Party (TDP) worker.