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‘One nation, one election’ not feasible yet: EC official

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As Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday held a meeting of various political parties to discuss ‘one nation, one election’, or simultaneous parliamentary and assembly polls, Election Commission sources claimed that the idea is not feasible as of now.

A top Election Commission source said that if the idea was feasible, then the poll panel would have held simultaneous assembly polls this year only along with the Lok Sabha polls.

The Election Commission had conducted the general elections in seven phases for the 542 Lok Sabha seats between April 11 to May 19. Results of the election were declared on May 23.

The source also contended that taking case the law and order situation during simultaneous polls can be very challenging as the number of central paramilitary forces is limited.

He also said that there are over 90 crore voters across the country and to prepare the logistics for simultaneous polls can be very tough, as of now.

The remarks of the top Election Commission sources comes after Modi held meeting with the Presidents of several political parties during the day in Parliament to discuss the idea of ‘one nation, one election’.

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EC meeting Wednesday on opposition’s concern on EVMs: Congress

The Election Commission will meet on Wednesday to address the concerns raised by leaders of 20 opposition parties, who met the poll panel on Tuesday to voice their concerns over Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and use of VVPATs, the Congress said.

“We have raised these same issues in last one and half months. Why they have not responded … the Commission heard us for almost an hour. They assured us they will meet again tomorrow (Wednesday) morning to address primarily these two issues,” senior party leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters.

The delegation comprised of Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, Telugu Desam Party chief Chandrababu Naidu, Nationalist Congress Party’s Praful Patel, DMK’s Kanimozhi, Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brien, Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav, Bahujan Samaj Party’s Satish Chandra Misra, Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Manoj Jha, Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury, Communist Party of India leader D. Raja and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal.

The delegation requested that the verification of VVPAT slips of five randomly identified polling stations should be done prior to beginning the counting of votes and not after completion of the last round.

They also sought that if any discrepancy is found anywhere during the VVPAT verification, 100 per cent counting of paper slips of VVPATs of all polling stations of that assembly segment should be done.

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Video: Chandrababu comments on EC

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Naidu calls EC pro-government, wants action against Pragya

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Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu on Friday accused the Election Commission of being pro-government and demanded action against BJP’s Bhopal candidate Pragya Thakur for “insulting” Mahatma Gandhi.

Talking to media after meeting EC officials, Naidu said, “The decisions of the Election Commission are very controversial, one-sided, pro-establishment.”

Accusing the EC of supporting the government, Naidu said: “We are fighting against the Election Commission and it is very unfortunate for all of us”.

He also questioned the EC for ordering re-polling in Andhra Pradesh after 25 days.

The TDP chief said action should be taken against BJP’s Bhopal candidate Pragya Thakur for insulting Mahatma Gandhi.

“Even now you are not taking any action. If it is BJP MPs, Prime Minister, Amit Shah, you are not taking action. This is not right. I have complained to them (EC officials),” he said.

Thakur came under widespread criticism after describing Gandhi’s killer Nathuram Godse as a “deshbakht” (patriot).

On West Bengal, Naidu said the Commission had no right to transfer any official. “It is against the spirit of federalism…transferring officials is akin to surrendering to the Central government,” Naidu said.

He also targeted the EC for curtailing the election campaign in West Bengal by invoking Article 324 of the Constitution, raising questions over permission given to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to conduct two meetings in West Bengal.

“I am a senior politician of this country and I have seen so many elections. But I have never seen this type of (Election) Commission,” he said.

With less than a week for announcement of Lok Sabha poll results, Naidu has planned meetings with several opposition leaders during his two day visit to the national capital.A

He met Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury and Aam Aadmi party leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday evening.

On Saturday, he is expected to meet Congress President Rahul Gandhi here and later Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati in Lucknow.

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Andhra cabinet meets following EC’s conditional nod

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The Andhra Pradesh state cabinet met on Tuesday and discussed measures required for relief in areas affected by cyclone ‘Fani’ and three other issues following the conditional nod given by the Election Commission (EC).

Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu presided over the meeting, which lasted for about two hours.

The meet discussed ‘Fani’ cyclone relief, drinking water problem, prevailing drought conditions and implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS).

Agriculture Minister Somireddy Chandramohan Reddy told reporters after the cabinet meet that it was decided to provide compensation to farmers who suffered losses due to recent cyclone ‘Fani’.

With Naidu insisting on conducting the cabinet meet, the poll body had on Monday given its nod subject to condition that any new decision will require permission of the poll body before implementation.

The EC also made it clear that revision of rates or any outstanding payment will require its permission before implementation.

Chief Secretary L.V. Subramanyam and secretaries of the departments of disaster management, agriculture and panchayati raj attended the meeting.

The officials told the cabinet meet that as per the preliminary estimates, ‘Fani’ cyclone caused losses to the tune of Rs 58 crore. Detailed assessment of losses is currently underway.

The officials said electricity poles were uprooted in Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam districts and standing crops were damaged.

The cabinet was briefed on drinking water problem, which is acute in Rayalaseema region. Water is being supplied through tankers to meet the requirements. The officials said crops were withering due to lack of water for irrigation.

The officials also informed the cabinet that prevailing drought conditions was leading to migration from Anantapur, Kadapa and Kurnool districts and sought early release of funds for payment under MNREGS.

The cabinet meeting was held amid Naidu’s stand-off with EC-appointed Chief Secretary L.V. Subramanyam over the issue.

The cabinet meet was originally scheduled on May 10 but had to be postponed as the chief secretary sought clearance from the EC in view of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC).

Elections to 175-member Andhra Pradesh Assembly and 25 Lok Sabha seats were held on April 11. The counting of votes will be taken up on May 23 along with Lok Sabha constituencies across the country.

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ECI gives conditional nod for Andhra cabinet meet

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The Election Commission of India finally gave its nod to Andhra Pradesh for holding cabinet meeting on Tuesday, subject to condition that any new decision will require permission of the poll body before implementation.

A spokesperson for ECI said any new decision, revision of rates or any outstanding payment will require its permission before implementation.

The poll body also laid down the condition that there should be no media announcement of cabinet decisions such as enhancement of rates.

The cabinet meeting will be held at 3 p.m. on Tuesday with four-point agenda approved by the poll body.

The ECI’s nod ended the suspense on the cabinet meeting called by Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu amid his stand-off with ECI-appointed Chief Secretary L.V. Subramanyam over the issue.

The cabinet meeting was originally scheduled on May 10 but had to be postponed as the chief secretary sought clearance from the ECI in view of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC).

Unhappy with ECI for preventing him from holding review meetings, Naidu had called the cabinet meeting and sent communication to the chief secretary along with the agenda that included ‘Fani’ cyclone relief, drinking water problem, prevailing drought conditions and implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS).

Subramanyam held consultations with Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) G.K. Diwedi and other senior officials on MCC and sent the proposal to ECI for its approval.

Following this, the chief minister postponed the cabinet meeting to May 14. However, there was no permission from ECI till Monday evening.

Earlier in the day Subramanyam called on the chief minister and discussed the issue in detail.

The officials of various departments were caught in the tussle between the chief minister and the chief secretary as the chief minister has warned the officials that action would be taken against those not attending the cabinet meeting.

Naidu on many occasions vent his anger over ECI not allowing him to hold review meetings while permitting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the chief ministers in other poll-bound states to conduct cabinet meetings.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) had also shot off letters to ECI over what he called its biased approach.

Elections to 175-member Andhra Pradesh Assembly and 25 Lok Sabha seats were held on April 11. The counting of votes will be taken up on May 23 along with Lok Sabha constituencies across the country.

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3 theatres seized in Andhra for screening ‘Lakshmi’s NTR’

The authorities in Andhra Pradesh’s Kadapa district on Friday seized three cinema halls which screened the Telugu movie “Lakshmi’s NTR” in violation of the orders of the Election Commission of India.

The three theatres screened the film on May 1. Though the election authorities did not give permission to screen the film, the managements of the three theatres ignored the orders and exhibited the movie in the morning show. When local revenue officials came to know of this, they let off the theatres with a warning.

However, the state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Gopal Krishna Dwivedi, took a serious note of this. He told the media on Friday that he recommended the EC to take action against the Kadapa district Joint Collector who failed to stop the screening of the film.

Following the CEO’s statement, Joint Collector Koteswar Rao ordered the concerned officials to seize the three theatres. Officials said these theatres can’t screen any movie.

The director of “Lakshmi’s NTR” and controversial filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma had planned to release the movie in Andhra Pradesh on May 1, but the CEO had made it clear that the orders restricting the film’s exhibition were still in force.

Varma was asked to adhere to the EC’s April 10 order restricting the exhibition of the film till further orders.

“Lakshmi’s NTR”, which was released in Telangana last month, deals with Telugu Desam Party (TDP) founder and former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N.T. Rama Rao’s second marriage with Lakshmi Parvathi and the subsequent events, including the revolt by his son-in-law N. Chandrababu Naidu, and NTR’s death.

The Election Commission had refused to allow the screening of the movie in Andhra Pradesh after some TDP functionaries approached it. They alleged that the film depicted Chief Minister and TDP President N. Chandrababu Naidu in negative light, which could impact the party’s poll prospects.

Elections to the 175-member Andhra Pradesh Assembly and 25 Lok Sabha seats in the state were held on April 11.

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Ruling BJP takes advantage out of 73-day poll schedule?

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The 7-phase election schedule was first announced on March 10 from when the election code came into effect. There is a long gap of over 73 days till counting day on May 23. The Election Commission of India is in control of election scene for so many days. It means indirectly the ruling party at the Centre exercising its control in the name of the election code.

The long duration poll came as a big advantage for the Modi government at the Centre and its secret ally YCP in AP. There were allegations that the EC chalked out this poll schedule to suit the needs of the BJP. Moreover, there are also concerns and doubts over the chances for tampering the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

Though the EC is an independent authority, there are concerns that it is favouring the BJP and allies. The Modi government faces criticism for its misuse of central institutions like the CBI, Enforcement Directorate, Income-Tax and what not. The long duration election process is no doubt denying level playing in election which is a threat to India’s democracy. AP people’s feelings are badly hurt at the manner of handling the election scene in the state. Their anger is multiplying going by how the Central governments are giving them raw deals first in 2014 illogical state division and the continued injustice afterwards.

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Andhra CM threatens EC with legal action to recover cost overrun

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Angry over the Election Commission preventing him from holding review meetings on ongoing projects, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu on Friday indirectly threatened the poll body with legal action to recover cost overrun.

Stepping up his attack on the Election Commission, Naidu alleged that it was usurping powers of a democratically elected government.

In a nine-page letter to the EC, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) lashed out at the poll body saying it was intentionally paralyzing the state administration.

Stating that the review of ongoing projects like Polavaram and construction of the new capital city was required for completing of the works in a time-bound manner, Naidu said the Election Commission would be solely responsible for the cost overrun and loss of time of these projects.

“The people of Andhra Pradesh reserve the right to recover the cost overrun amounts from all concerned personally who come in the way of timely completion of these projects by initiating appropriate legal proceedings,” he wrote.

Naidu told the poll panel that since there was a gap of nearly six weeks between the conclusion of the elections and counting of votes, it was not constitutionally and legally correct to deprive the people of the state the right to be governed by their democratically elected government for five years.

He said since the electorate exercised their franchise, the poll panel had no jurisdiction to stop any review meeting by him or briefing by the officers.

Naidu said the Chief Electoral Officer’s comments that the Chief Minister did not have powers to review the departments was surprising and shocking and alleged that the CEO was exceeding his jurisdiction.

“Comments by CEO were absurd and arbitrary and also belittle relevance and primacy of political governance in a democratic polity.”

Naidu also took strong exception to the CEO directing Additional Director General (Intelligence) not to report to the Chief Minister and wondered if Director (IB) and National Security Advisor were are also prohibited from functioning under the Prime Minister.

“Have you issued similar orders in other states? If not, why this discriminating orders in case of the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh?”

The TDP chief pointed out that Prime Minister and also Chief Minister in Telangana continued to hold review meetings of the departments.

Stating that seven people died in thunderbolts last week, Naidu said this could have been averted if the democratically elected government was allowed to function.

“Who is responsible for these deaths?” asked Naidu and said many critical issues require urgent attention of the state government and cannot be postponed till May 23.

He reiterated that the Election Commission failed to conduct the elections properly, depriving many people of their right to vote.

Naidu wrote that in his 40-year-long political career he never saw an election which was so badly conducted, logistically mismanaged and poorly organised.

Elections to 175-member Assembly and 25 Lok Sabha seats in the state were held in a single phase on April 11.

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Why Election Commission denied access to IP address in fake enrollment case

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Denying access to internet protocol (IP) address for the second time, the Election Commission (EC) has made it clear that it wouldn’t be possible while adding that Central Crime Station (CCS) to go ahead with the investigation of fake voter enrollment case. With the latest denial has posed a major obstacle for the investigation case into fake voter enrollment.

CCS officials are investigating the case into fake voter enrollment of former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) OP Rawat and Telangana Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Rajat Kumar. During the course of voter enrollment, officials of GHMC accepted the applications without bothering to verify the credentials and this has resulted in a massive fake enrollment in names of Rawat and Rajat Kumar. Subsequently, CCS got into action to investigate the case.

Earlier also, the EC had denied furnishing IP address details, when AP Special Investigation Team (SIT) was investigating the mass deletion of voters from the electoral list.

According to reports spread in the media, the CCS officials have identified two persons from Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) were responsible for fake enrollment registration as they worked as electoral registration officer and assistant. Voter ID of Rawat and Rajat Kumar were issued with an address come under polling booth in Masabtank area.

Having come to know of this, GHMC has lodged a complaint in last January. Cheating and impersonation case has been registered in this regard.

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Naidu’s fight in Delhi – EVMs can be hacked?

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The Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are at the centre of an intense electoral and political controversy in the country right now. CM Chandrababu Naidu has taken it very seriously to prove that the EVMs can be hacked. So, these vulnerably machines should be set aside by bringing back the age old ballot paper system which has no scope for massive manipulation. Naidu is camping in Delhi now to prove that the Election Commission of India is not honest about the flaws in the EVMs.

Vemuru Hari Prasad, technical advisor to AP government, has asserted that the ECI has not yet proved that EVMs are fool-proof and that they are not vulnerable. He says that different countries are sending their EVMs to international hackers’ event ‘Def Con’ held in America every year to test their effectiveness. It helps to find flaws, if any, for taking up improvements in the machines. India has never sent its EVMs there.

Just like Def Con, the Indian Hackers Association conducts ‘Nullcon’ event in Goa where also expert hackers arrive to display their talent. Hari Prasad has earlier suggested to the ECI to sent EVMs to this event to test its strong and weak points. But this suggestion is also set aside. With technical questions remaining unanswered, the issue is now caught up in a serious political storm with 21 opposition parties demanding return to paper ballot system.

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Why Nizamabad farmers seek postponement of MP election?

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Farmers of turmeric and jowar in Nizamabad have requested the Election Commission (EC) to postpone Lok Sabha election by another 10 days as against the scheduled date of April 11. Further, farmers are demanding for a ballot paper instead of EVM.

Nizamabad Lok Sabha constituency is witnessing highest number of MP candidates in the fray. Kalvakuntla Kavitha, daughter of TRS supremo and Telangana chief minister k Chandrashekhar Rao, is sitting MP from Nizamabad constituency.

In the memorandum submitted to the Telangana Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), the farmers said: “It’s not justified that candidates of main political parties have been listed in the top of the poll ballot list. We request the EC to list the contesting candidates in alphabetic order. Moreover, so far the minimum awareness programme was not conducted for 185 candidates in the fray. The local election official is not coordinating with independent candidates.”

However, central election commission deputy commissioner Umesh Sinha has clarified that postponement of election is not possible and Lok Sabha polls in Telangana will be held as per the schedule.

The EC has kept poll equipment ready for Lok Sabha elections in Telangana. About 25,000 ballot units, 2,000 control units and 2,000 VVPATs have been earmarked for Nizamabad Lok Sabha constituency, which spans over two districts Nizamabad and Jagtial. Nizamabad district has 1,272 polling stations and 516 polling stations in Jagtial district.

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EC removes three Andhra police officials from poll duty

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The Election Commission on Tuesday transferred three top police officials of Andhra Pradesh and directed that they should not be assigned any election related work.

The poll panel directed that Director General of Intelligence A. B. Venkateswara Rao be transferred forthwith and attached to the police headquarters. He was asked to hand over charge to senior most officer in his office.

The Election Commission also transferred Srikakulam Superintendent of Police Venkata Ratnam and Kadapa Superintendent of Police Rahul Dev Sharma. They were also attached to the police headquarters and were directed to hand over the charge to the officers immediate below their rank. None of these officers will be assigned any election related works till completion of current elections, the poll panel said.

The Election Commission took the action, following a complaint by YSR Congress Party that they were favouring the ruling Telugu Desam Party.

The opposition party had also made allegations against Sharma with regard to the handling of murder case of former minister and MP Y.S. Vivekananda Reddy, who was uncle of YSRCP chief Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy.

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Opposition gives ultimatum to Election Commission

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The anti-BJP parties came on to a single platform and placed specific demands before the Election Commission of India. The Congress, the TDP, the DMK and other parties demanded return of the polling method to the old and traditional ballot paper system in place of current electronic voting machines (EVMs). If that is not possible, the election authorities should and must count all the VVPAT slips to ensure transparency.

AICC President Rahul Gandhi, TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu, NCP leader Sharad Pawar, Loktantrik Janata Dal leder Sharad Yadav and scores of leaders attended the opposition parties’ meeting when they decided to meet the Chief Election Commissioner on Monday. Their new demand is seen as a calculated move to put additional pressure on the ruling BJP and the election authorities ahead of the general election.
It all appears not possible to remove the EVMs at this advanced stage. The election is just three months away. The opposition is firm on counting of all Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail slips. This will give confidence to the voters that their votes are clearly cast to their satisfaction. The opposition parties are bringing forth these demands under their slogan – Save Democracy and Save Nation.

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Telangana poll body chief apologies for missing names of voters

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Now the official numbers are out. Election Commission revealed the poll percentages at the district level and at the state level, almost 28 hours after the election was over. Election Commission announced that total vote percentage is 73.2 percent. But Election Commission also apologized for the names missing in the voter list.

Lakhs of people found their names missing in the list

It is known news that, many people who have been voting for years, complained they could not find their names at their regular polling station this time. Sports women Gutta Jwala and a senior IPS officer also were among those who complained. Telangana minister Etela Rajender’s family members also found their names missing in the list and couldn’t cast their vote. The process EC has been following for removing of dead person’s votes and of those who changed address is a manual process i.e. booth level officers need to go to the homes and manually verify and act accordingly. However, at booth level the process is not followed rigorously. There is CEO website where people can register themselves and also verify their names in the list. But last 2 days before election, this website didn’t work.

CEO admitted and apologized:

Chief Electoral Officer has admitted that there were many people who could not cast their vote because of their name missing in the voter list. He has apologized to voters who were denied their right to vote. In September this year, 2.81 crore people were named in Telangana’s final electoral rolls after the names of 3 lakh dead voters and duplicate names were removed. As per reports almost 22 lakh people couldn’t utilise their vote because of this reason. It is almost 8% of the total number of voters. In the era where 1% or 2% votes also tilting the governments, how is it justified to have elections when 8% of voters’ names are missing in the list.

Was EC unprepared for early polls?

Even before the election notification itself, Congress leader Marri Shashidhar Reddy went to court saying the electoral rolls were not complete and had serious errors. However Election Commission went ahead and conducted polls. Moreover, TRS going for early elections mounted pressure on Election commission. EC always have a choice to say when they can conduct elections, even if assembly is dissolved. But why EC agreed to conduct elections, when it is not yet ready is a million dollar question.

Ours is the largest democracy, and it is 7 decades old. But still our institutions depriving lakhs of people of their constitutional right of voting – is something that needs urgent attention.

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EC gives shock to TRS

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The Election Commission has given a shock to TRS, the ruling party in Telangana State, as it misused the services of artists from the Cultural Department in Karimnagar, by suspending 8 artists from their services. With this dare step, the EC indirectly alerted all the state government employees for keeping themselves away from political campaigns.

Recently, the recent former MLA Mr. Gangula Kamalakar organised a public meeting in Karimnagar where a team of artists from the cultural department under the supervision of artist Shankar had taken part in the meeting by promoting the welfare schemes brought and implemented by the TRS government.

Following complaints made by other party leaders on the issue, the EC probed in to the matter and based on the evidences of video footage that confirms violation of the model code and sent show-cause notices to the said artists. As the department of Public Relations has not satisfied with the explanation given by the artists, it proposed for stringent action under several rules of the TSCS Rules (1991 and 1964). Based on the report, the EC directed the collector Mr. Sarfaraj Ahmed for taking action against the eight artists and the district collector has issued suspension orders against them. The EC also suspended a government teacher recently as the teacher participated in political campaign of Minister Eetala Rajender in Huzurabad segment.

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Will be ready to hold simultaneous polls by next year: EC

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The Election Commission will be ready to hold simultaneous polls to Lok Sabha and all state assemblies by the end of next year when it will have all the logistics ready, Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat has said.

However, the opposition was not impressed with the idea of simultaneous polls while two former Chief Election Commissioners supported it saying the EC was fully capable of the exercise.

“A lot of things depend on the logistics. As of now, we do not have that many EVMs as are required. But the government has already sanctioned the money to the Election Commission and we have placed the orders (for EVMs and VVPAT machines) to the manufacturers,” Rawat said in Bhopal.

“In fact we have started receiving the machines and will get all the deliveries by September 2018. After that we will be able to hold simultaneous elections,” Rawat said.

He added that the constitutional amendment needed for the exercise is not the EC’s concern and will have to be taken care of by the government.

Supporting Rawat’s stand, former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) S.Y. Quraishi said that the poll panel is capable of holding simultaneous polls if it has all the logistics.

“Usually, elections to at least four-five state assemblies are held along with the Lok Sabha polls. So to make it 10 states or 25 states is easy enough because the arrangements are the same, machinery is the same, security arrangements are the same. All we need is double the number of EVMs and VVPATs,” Quraishi said.

Another former CEC, N. Gopalaswami said the real issue is not whether EC can do it or not, but whether the terms of various state assemblies can be synchronised.

“The issue is whether simultaneous elections can be held. It depends on the provision of the law. The terms of different legislatures ends at different points of time. So if they can be synchronised through a provision of law is an issue. That is the issue, and not whether EC can do it or not,” Gopalaswami said.

However, political opponents were not amused by the proposal.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Ashutosh said that the idea will “kill” Indian diversity.

“Holding assembly elections along with Lok Sabha elections will be killing India’s diversity. It is not a financial issue. Though they (government) claim that money will be saved (by holding simultaneous polls) but the amount saved would not be much…you can calculate. It is important to protect India’s democracy,” Ashutosh said.

Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed said the Modi government is looking for an escape route now.

“Modiji is hassled now at the way things are on the economic and political fronts. Now there is a mess, they are now trying to find an escape route by holding elections early,” Ahmed said.

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Future elections will be held with paper trail, EC tells political parties

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The Election Commission on Friday ruled out any possibility of the EVMs being tampered with in elections even as it announced that all future elections will be held with VVPAT slips to prevent any doubts while the AAP demanded ‘hackathon’, a view others were not apparently enthusiastic about at an all-party meeting convened to discuss worries over the machines.

At the end of the day-long meeting, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi that the poll panel will hold a “challenge” for political parties to prove their allegations that the machines were or could be tampered with.

“All future elections will be mandatorily held with VVPAT (Voter-verifiable paper audit trail),” he said.

“The Commission will hold a challenge and offer an opportunity to political parties to demonstrate that the EVMs used in the recently-concluded assembly elections were tampered or the EVMs can be tampered with even under the laid down technical and administrative safeguards,” he added.

The meeting, which lasted over seven hours, was attended by representatives of seven political parties and 35 state parties.

Zaidi said the commission has taken note of all the views of the parties and assured that their concerns and apprehensions regarding EVMs would be duly considered and addressed through the challenge and further necessary action.

At the meeting, the ruling Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi, which had sought to demonstrate in the assembly earlier this week that EVMs can be manipulated to rig results in favour of party, made a demand that the commission should provide them the EVMs used in the recent assembly elections in five states so that they could prove their point.

“Provide us the EVMs, we will show that these can be hacked. We have shown it in the assembly,” Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said and demanded a hackathon.

Congress demanded “more steps” to ensure trustworthiness of EVMs, the CPI-M said that all EVMs should have paper trail and BJP said that the machines were reliable.

National Conference leader Devender Singh Rana said after the meeting that except for BJP, almost all parties raised concerns about reliability of EVMs.

Trinamool Vice President Mukul Roy said: “EVMs are not at all reliable and strongly demanded (that) the EC start using paper ballots in all future polls.”

Janata Dal-Secular and Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party also supported going back to the ballot papers.

At the meeting, the poll panel also made a presentation on EVMs explaining its secured design feature and highlighted “technical, administrative protocol and procedural safeguards that fortify the EVMs and VVPATs against any sort of manipulation or tampering”.

It also referred to queries raised by some political parties about the incidents of alleged EVM manipulation at Bhind and Dholpur during the recently concluded bye-elections and said that “baseless perceptions were generated about these incidents.”

The meeting also discussed electoral reforms like making bribery in elections a cognisable offence and disqualification on being chargesheeted for bribery in elections.

Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Nilotpal Basu said later that candidates should be disqualified only when the legal process is exhausted and the accused is convicted.

Amid concerns raised by the opposition, the Union Cabinet had last month cleared the Election Commission’s proposal to buy VVPAT machines for the EVMs to ensure transparency in the voting process.

The proposal involves getting 16,15,000 VVPAT units for EVMs at a cost of Rs 3,173.47 crore.

The EC also referred to queries raised by some political parties about the incidents of alleged EVM manipulation at Bhind and Dholpur during the recently concluded bye-elections, reiterating that baseless perceptions were generated about these incidents.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Delhi Police books AIADMK’s Dinakaran in bribery case

Delhi Police on Monday booked AIADMK Deputy General Secretary and V.K. Sasikala’s nephew T.T.V. Dinakaran on charges of bribery, an officer said.

Dinakaran has been accused of attempting to bribe Election Commission officials to get the party’s ‘two leaves’ symbol.

Police said his close aide Sukesh Chandrasekar was arrested on Sunday night from a south Delhi hotel with Rs 1.3 crore which he was to give the poll officials as a bribe in exchange for the symbol that was suspended a couple of weeks ago.

“Dinakaran has been booked for criminal conspiracy, personating a public servant and corruption after Chandrasekar disclosed his name during a late night police raid at the hotel where he was staying,” the senior police officer said.

The police had raided the hotel following a tip-off, the officer added.

Reacting to the development Dinakaran told reporters in Chennai: “I do not know anybody by the name Sukesh Chandrasekar.”

“Somebody is scheming to destroy the AIADMK,” Dinakaran added.

“I will meet the allegation legally. If I am summoned by Delhi Police I will meet it legally,” Dinakaran said.

Dinakaran also added that he will be meeting Sasikala, his aunt and also AIADMK’s General Secretary in the Bangalore jail and discuss various issues.

The AIADMK has been cleaved into two camps since December 2016, when its leader and late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa died.

Her closest aide, Sasikala, was named the new party chief but was jailed within weeks after the Supreme Court found her guilty of corruption.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

“Bhanwar Lal has to pay price for deletion of voters”

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With High Court taking cognizance of the petition filed against the Election Commission and GHMC, Dr Marri Sashidhar Reddy, the man who single handedly fought against the deletion of names from the voter list of several “Seemandhra voters” said he was ready to prove the complicity of chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao in the whole episode.

Talking to telugu360.com Dr Reddy said he had evidence to prove that the CM was involved in the murky affair of removing the names of hostile voters from areas where the CM feared he would not get votes. “And the CEO has to pay price for his role in the deletion of names of voters from the list” he said.

“I will take the issue to the logical conclusion. I know when the CM summoned CEO Bhanwar Lal to the Camp Office along with other officials related to the revision of voters list in the GHMC area. CM’s summoning of officers on deputation to Election Commission was wrong. And officials were equally wrong in attending a meeting summoned by the chief minister,” he said. According to Reddy, the meeting took between the CM and the other election officials took place on July 21, 2015.

Reddy said in the meeting removal of names had been discussed and a target of 15 lakh was fixed for the deletion of names on the pretext eliminating the bogus voters.

” Somesh Kumar had been shifted from GHMC for his role in the dubious activity. The team, deputed by the EC to look into the matter seems to have found substance in the charges of political parties. So, he was shifted immediately. Now, I want to pursue the matter till it reached the logical conclusion. I will take up the matter with Election Commission till an action is taken against Bhanwar Lal,” Reddy said.

Reddy said the CEO committed impropriety and violated the 13 cc of the Representation of People’s Act which specifies that the Chief Electoral Officer and District Election Officers were deemed to be on the deputation to the Election Commission and they were subject to the control, superintendence and discipline of the Election Commission”. ” When the Act is so specific about the role of the election officials on deputation to the Election Commission, how could a chief minister summon and give directions to the CEO and how the latter oblige,” he asked.

Reddy says the CM had insisted on deletion of ‘bogus voters’ en masse from electoral rolls as their continuance would undermine the electoral process in the GHMC area. “The meaning of this is that in many areas in GHMC area the voters are ranged against the TRS. The CM knows it pretty well. By applying Aadhar card many of these could become bogus voter as many of them do not possess it. This is sheer abuse of position,” he said. He cited the case of Uttar Pradesh where UP State government had to suspend senior officers including the District Election Officer of Moradabad and others in the case of illegal deletion of 15,800 names of voters in Thakurdwara assembly constituency, a segment of Rampur LS constituency. The case of GHMC voter deletion is certain to set a new trend in prevention of manipulative politics in the country, he said.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

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