With about two months to go for the general elections, the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh has been dragged into a controversy over the alleged data theft of voter data in the state. The issue has snowballed, pitting the TDP and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government in Telangana against each other.
The Telangana police has registered a case against IT Grids India Pvt Ltd, a company that created the ‘Seva Mitra’ app for the TDP, for acquiring “sensitive" data of voters from the AP government.
Amid this controversy, an attempted deletion of voter names from AP’s electoral roll has also been reported, prompting the state’s chief electoral officer to register criminal cases over the last two weeks.
The main opposition YSR Congress Party on Tuesday also alleged that the TDP was deleting names of voters who were not likely to vote for the ruling party.
A press release by TDP national spokesperson Kambhampati Rammohan Rao on Tuesday said the party was seeking legal recourse on the issue. He iterated the TDP’s allegation that the Telangana police had been “put to task" by the TRS to obtain “important information" on his party, and also said that an attempt to steal the TDP’s own data was being made.
“TDP data includes the welfare and insurance details of our cadres. In 1984 we had computerized details of 6 lakh cadres. This data belongs to the Telugu Desam Party. It is the sole property of our 70 lakh cadre," Rammohan Rao said.
Another TDP leader who did not want to be named stated that the Telangana police had no jurisdiction in the matter because the entire issue pertained to voter data from AP.
In response to the TDP’s allegations, TRS working president K.T. Rama Rao on Monday said the case was registered in Hyderabad as the IT company was located in the city. He denied charges that his party was in nexus with the YSR Congress Party.
On the same day, the police in Cyberabad, the IT corridor of Hyderabad, said that IT Grids had managed to gain access to personal information and sensitive data of individuals relating to Aadhaar, electoral rolls and government schemes, with which it politically profiled voters.
V.C. Sajjanar, Cyberabad police commissioner, said at a press conference on Monday the database was stored with Amazon Web Services, which had been issued a notice.
The case against IT Grids was registered on 3 March, and led to a stand-off between the Telangana and the AP police forces. The AP police tried to enter the offices of the software company, but were prevented from doing so.
On 3 March, the chief electoral officer of AP also issued a statement saying that “certain mischievous people" were applying for deletion of names online from the electoral rolls. Chief electoral officer Gopal Krishna Dwivedi stated that 45 FIRs had been registered and six members of Mee-Seva -- government centres for various citizen services -- were found to be involved in such acts in the East Godavari district.
He, however, did not indicate whether action was initiated against any political party.