Telugu Desam Party supremo and chief minister Chandrababu Naidu has shifted his focus on his party counting agents. Naidu, who is busy holding review meetings with the party candidates from May 4, with a small break in between, had decided to stop this review and start special training programme for the counting agents. As the counting day is fast approaching and the nation is set to go for the final two rounds of polling, before taking up counting of votes on May 23, Chandrababu Naidu found that the counting agents are key in determining what is in store for the party in the EVMs.
Chandrababu Naidu had made allegations against the EVMs and their authenticity on April 11 polling. He said he was not sure whether his vote went to his party or other parties. He raised the issue of malfunctioning EVMs and demanded that the country go back to the paper ballot. He has an expert on his side on the EVMs, who challenged the Election Commission on the possibilities of EVMs tampering. The TDP chief also held a meeting with the election commission on the malfunctioned EVMs.
The TDP chief, besides opposing the EVMs, had sought counting of VVPAT slips. Though the election commission said it would take up counting of VVPAT slips in five polling booths for every Assembly constituency, Chandrababu Naidu wanted the counting of 50 per cent of the VVPATs. In fact, he along with 21 political parties have filed a case in the supreme court seeking counting of 50 per cent VVPAT. Though the supreme court had declined to suggest the election commission on this demand, Chandrababu Naidu is continuing his battle.
In this backdrop, the TDP supremo has now shifted his attention to the party counting agents. The party had picked up 200 counting agents for all 175 Assembly and 25 Parliament constituencies in the State. They were picked up from the families of the contesting candidates and also the staunch loyalists of the TDP. They would be on a special training at every Parliament constituency for next one week. Sources say that Chandrababu Naidu wanted the counting agents to be alert and keep an eye on the EVMs and the votes polled in every EVM. The TDP has, in its network, the voter list who are known voters of the party in every polling booth and were asked to raise alert if the votes in the EVMs fall short of the known voters of the party.
In a way, Chandrababu Naidu is preparing for another round of war against the EVMs and it is here the party is holding a special training programme for the agents.