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TRS’ bid to ‘outnumber’ EVMs
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

The strategy

TRS floods EC with dummy candidates to force reversal to ballots

The big catch

As per the Election Commission guidelines, EVMs can be used for a maximum number of 64 candidates in each constituency

The Telangana Rashtra Samithi has ensured that more 64 candidates filed their papers in each constituency

Hyderabad, July 11
The fight against the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) has set off a new trend in Andhra Pradesh with the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) flooding the Election Commission with a large number of dummy candidates to force the authorities to revert to ballot papers.

In a clever move to compel the poll panel to use ballot boxes, instead of EVMs, in the July 27 bypoll in the Telangana region, the TRS has encouraged a large number of Independents to file nominations.

As per the Election Commission guidelines, EVMs can be used for a maximum number of 64 candidates in each constituency. Each EVM has two units: a control unit, which records the number of votes of each candidate, and a ballot unit where the voter presses the button against a candidate. A ballot unit can accommodate a maximum number of 16 candidates and a maximum of four such ballot units can be connected to the control unit in each polling booth.

Exploiting this technical limitation to its advantage, the TRS has ensured that more 64 candidates filed their papers in each constituency. The byelections are to be held in 12 constituencies in the region.

The TRS, which is fighting for a separate Telangana state, is strongly opposed to the use of EVMs on the ground that they are not foolproof and are amenable to tampering and manipulation. It is argued that the EC will have no option but to switch over to ballot papers if the number of contesting candidates in each constituency exceeds 64.

As many as 926 candidates filed nomination papers in the 12 Assembly constituencies going to the polls. Except in the Nizamabad (Urban) constituency, where state Congress president D Srinivas is contesting, the number of nominations exceeded 64 in each constituency.

Yellareddy in Nizamabad district recorded the maximum number of 114 nominations followed by Siricilla in Karimnagar district with 107.

“Only after the withdrawals, we will know the exact position. We will take a decision on using ballot papers after taking the final picture into consideration,” Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) IV Subba Rao said. Tomorrow is the last date for withdrawals.

On its part, the Election Commission has allayed the Opposition fears over tampering or manipulation of EVMs and made it clear that they are tamper-proof.

The TRS had earlier moved the high court, challenging the EC’s decision to use EVMs in the byelections. The BJP and the Telugu Desam Party are also opposed to the use of EVMs.

“We had brought to the notice of the EC several times in the past that the EVMs were not tamper-proof. We demand that the country revert to ballot papers,” TDP president and former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu said. The byelections will be an acid test for the TRS and its maverick chief K Chandrasekhar Rao as setback in any of the constituencies will be seen as a dilution of the Telangana cause.





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