Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N Chandrababu Naidu yesterday continued his outreach to the opposition parties in order to firm up a non-Bharatiya Janata Party front ahead of the announcement of Lok Sabha poll results on May 23.
The Andhra Pradesh chief minister met Congress president Rahul Gandhi at the latter’s residence in New Delhi in the morning, and then visited Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav to discuss possible alliances in the post-election scenario.
Later in the evening he met Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati in Lucknow.
Holding talks with opposition leaders, who are not comfortable with each other, Naidu has apparently turned into an interlocutor.
On Friday he said all parties, including rival K Chandrashekhar Rao-led Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), were welcome to join the non-BJP mahagathbandhan (grand alliance).
Meanwhile, Naidu said manipulation of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) was possible and thus demanded that Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips be used as ballot papers for “transparency” in the electoral process.
Speaking at a seminar, Naidu said voters should be allowed to collect VVPAT slips after voting and put it in a ballot box so it can be used to tally votes.
“Immediately, voters will put it in the ballot box. They will not take it outside,” he said.
At present, voters have seven seconds to see the VVPAT slips and verify details after casting votes. Subsequently, it goes into the connected box.
The chief minister, whose party came to power in 2014 after bagging 117 out of 175 assembly seats, said he had come across some people who said that election results can be swung in someone’s favour by paying money.
“God knows! People are coming to us. They said if Rs5-10 crore are given, you will be elected. I asked them what is the proof. They said do not bother about all this. It is fraudulent,” Naidu said.
Former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi said the suggestion of using VVPAT slips for additional ballot paper voting may be considered.
“The EVM machine goes dead for 12 seconds after one casts his votes. So in the remaining five seconds, it can be done,” he said.
Naidu said the possibility of manipulation of EVMs was the biggest challenge and hence he wanted “transparency” in the election process.
“Political parties should have confidence... That is why I am fighting for last 10 years. I will continue doing it tomorrow as well,” he said.
Naidu on Friday accused the Election Commission of being “pro-government”. He said that the decisions of the commission were “very controversial”, “one-sided”, and “pro-establishment”.
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