In a bizarre turn of events, the ‘EVM expert’ Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu had tagged along with him to the Election Commission of India, turned out to be an out-on-bail ‘EVM thief’. According to the Times of India report, Naidu had left a delegation to the poll panel on Saturday to discuss ‘faulty EVMs’.
Ironically, the ‘expert’ from Chandrababu’s delegation representing the Telegu Desam Party in front of the poll chief, was none other than a person who himself was an ‘EVM theft accused’.
The Election Commission, in its letter, asked Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party why a man who faces a criminal case of theft in 2010 was part of his team to the poll body’s office. The letter stated that it was decided that the man, Hari Prasad Vemuru, would get a detailed briefing from the technical team of the commission.
When the discussions came to the issue of EVMs and their functioning, one of the delegates repeatedly raised various technical issues regarding the functioning of EVM and said that he has the requisite technical expertise in the field. However, this technical person turned out to be one Hari Prasad who was involved in a criminal case regarding the alleged theft of EVM machine in 2010. An FIR is also registered against him in Mumbai, the EC said in its letter to the party.
In the letter addressed to the president of the party’s legal cell, the EC said, “This is completely intriguing as to how a so-called technical expert with these antecedents was allowed to be part of the delegation led by N Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and President, TDP.”
In his visit to Delhi to meet EC officials, Naidu was accompanied by Hari Prasad, a Hyderabad-based researcher, who was arrested in 2010 in a one-of-its-kind EVM theft case. He was arrested for illegally procuring an EVM but was later released on bail. Hari Prasad had turned up for EVM challenge conducted by EC in 2009 but failed to prove that the machine could be tampered or hacked.
Rebutting the claim the TDP hit back at the EC saying that the poll body is trying to “avoid addressing the situation.” The TDP, in its reply, said no charge sheet was filed against Hari Prasad Vemuru in the last nine years and claimed that he is the first Indian to be honoured with the US-based Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award nine years ago.
Naidu had alleged that 30 to 40 per cent of voting machines in his state did not work properly on Thursday, during the first phase of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He has accused the election body of working on the instructions of the government.
Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu asked the Election Commission of India to revert to ballot paper system immediately to “preserve the sanctity and protect the spirit of the electoral process and democracy.”