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Dated 13-04-2019

To
The Chief Election Commissioner,
Election Commission of India,
Nirvachan Sadan, Ashoka Road,
New Delhi - 110001.

Sir,

Subject: Systemic failures and partisan attitude of the


Election Commission of India in Andhra
Pradesh elections-Reg.
******

As you are aware, I am writing this letter with great


anguish and agony. The manner in which the Election
Commission of India, a constitutional body, mandated to
superintend, direct and control the process of
elections, miserably failed to live up to the spirit of the
constitutional duty, is not only disturbing but also dangerous to
the future of democracy in the country.

2. India is a great country with wide cultural and


demographic diversity. Our constitutional forefathers envisaged
that the will of the Nation can be best reflected if we put in place
strong Institutions manned by men of mettle and
integrity. Institutions, when manned by men of values and
vision, excel and touch the pinnacle of their performance. Else

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they will fail not only the institution, but also the Nation. As you
may recall, that after emerging as an independent Nation, the
first Chief Election Commissioner of India Shri Sukumar Sen
opined this in no uncertain terms when he said:

"Democracy means an opportunity for everyone to


participate in decision making. A strong electoral
system through universal adult franchise is essential
to realize that objective. Our Institutional objective is
to facilitate most congenial climate for the voters to
exercise their franchise. Given the low level of literacy
of the country's populace, we need to ensure that the
voter is enabled and empowered to exercise the
franchise, keeping the process of voting as simple and
solid as possible. Though not well educated an
average Indian voter's wisdom is the touchstone of
our democracy. Our every step should aim at
strengthening the voter's trust in the voting process.
Else it will jeopardize the voter's trust and confidence
in the institutions that are endowed with this
responsibility."

3. I wish to bring to your notice a series of malafide actions


of Election Commission of India in managing the election process
in Andhra Pradesh that gave rise to serious doubts that the
constitutional duties of this great institution are not performed
with objectivity, impartiality and professionalism.

Unjustified transfers with Prejudice


(i). Even before the election process schedule was
finalized and election code of conduct came into vogue,
the Collector & District Magistrate of Srikakulam district
hailing from a humble Scheduled tribe was removed for no
reason, adversely affecting the morale of not only the

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concerned officer, but also the entire Civil Service in the
state.

(ii). Even before the election process was initiated the


State Chief Electoral Officer who comes from a scheduled
caste background was transferred out again without any
valid reasons.
(iii). After the initiation of the election process, the
Superintendents of Police of Kadapa and Srikakulam were
removed and asked to be attached to DGP office. Both
officers maintained highest levels of integrity and
professionalism in their careers so far. One of them, SP
Kadapa was removed while he was investigating a
gruesome murder that took place in the district in the
family of the close relative of YSR Congress Party
President, In this case the culprits have tried to destroy
the evidence and the murder case was projected as heart
attack with a view to cover up the case and protect the
culprits who allegedly belong to YSR Congress Party.

Chief Minister's Security establishment disturbed:


(iv). Similarly, the Director General (Intelligence) of Police
who looks after the security of the Chief Minister and other
important issues was also asked to be immediately
replaced thus adversely affecting not only the morale of
the police services in the state, but also destabilizing the
security systems of the Chief Minister who is in high risk
'Z' plus category who had already suffered a horrible bomb
blast attack by Naxalites and escaped from the teeth of
death.

YSR Congress Party candidate's dictates run


(v). The Superintendent of Police of Prakasam district and
some other police officers were removed a day before the
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Poll day, further weakening the morale of the entire police
force in the state. Shockingly, the replacement was done
without even consulting and seeking a panel from the
state government. The Superintendent of Police (SP)
Prakasam was transferred, soon after the threatening
statement made by YSR Congress Party candidate of
Chirala Assembly Constituency, that the SP would be
transferred by evening. This action of the ECI confirmed
that Election Commission acts according to the whims and
fancies of YSR Congress Party candidates.

Usurping the powers of the State Government


(vi). In a deeply disturbing development, the Chief
Secretary of the state was not only unceremoniously
removed, but his replacement was done without even
consulting the state government and seeking a panel of
officers from the state government, that goes against the
established conventions and procedures of the democratic
governance. This amounts to usurping the powers of
democratically elected government. Can a Constitutional
Authority override a democratically elected government?.
On the other hand, the Election Commission posted an
officer, who was co-accused in one of the criminal cases
against the YSR Congress Party President Sri
Y.S.Jaganmohan Reddy. Transferring the Chief Secretary
who is the head of the civil administration just a few days
before the date of election is atrocious and the failure of
the election machinery can be attributed to this hasty step
of transferring him at a crucial time.

Premeditated vilification campaign by Saakshi News


Paper and TV Channel
(vii) All the above mentioned actions were resorted to
in a manner that is neither transparent nor neutral, but

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only based on the complaints made by the opposition
YSR Congress Party. Both the leader of this party and the
person who made these complaints, are facing criminal
charges in many economic offences and undergoing trial
before the CBI Court, Hyderabad. They are the prime
accused in many criminal cases that were filed as a
result of their loot of public resources worth thousands of
crores. All the complaints given by the YSR Congress
Party were promptly acted upon without conducting the
mandatory enquiry and without calling for the explanation
of the officials concerned. This has clearly given an
impression in the state administration that if any official
does not behave as per the dictates of YSR Congress
Party, they will face the music and removed by the
Election Commission. There were many coincidences
where these people went into the Election Commission on
daily basis, and make statements to media in front of
the Election Commission stating that the Election
Commission is going to remove these concerned officers
and shockingly as they proclaimed, the action followed
within hours of such statements.

Paralysis of administration
4. Further, to keep the entire state administration on the
back foot, the office bearers of this political party kept on
complaining against the officers of the state government. They
use Saakshi Channel and Saakshi News Paper to write adverse
stories against the TDP leaders and officers and complaint to
Election Commission duly enclosing such write ups in the news
papers. Since the Election Commission sought replies from the
concerned officers on an hourly basis, concerned officers were
only busy on answering the complaints leaving their prime
duty of making preparatory arrangements. This has paralyzed
the administration and affected the election process and

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arrangements as the officers remained either inactive or
defensive.

Large scale deletion of voters by YSR Congress Party


5. On the other hand, I am deeply pained to bring to your
notice that none of the complaints made by the Telugu
Desam Party (TDP) were acted upon. The TDP complaint
that around 7.5 lakh votes were sought to be deleted by
the opposition YSR Congress Party through
pseudonymous cyber complaints on false names and IP
addresses. It came to our knowledge that the same
strategy was followed earlier in the Telangana state that
led to the deletion of around 25 lakh votes, for which the
C.E.O, Telangana gave an open apology to the voters. A
Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted for
investigating this cybercrime by Government of Andhra
Pradesh went into the details and concluded that the
complaints in Form 7A were made with a criminal intent. To
take this cybercrime to its logical conclusion, and punish
the guilty the SIT sought the details of the IP numbers of
the computers, where from these pseudonymous complaints
came to the Election Commission. The Election
Commission of India has not acted upon the request so
far. The shocking silence of the Election Commission of India
on such a grave offence is seen as a sign of connivance to
help the YSR Congress Party. Had not the TDP acted on
time and fought against the mischief, this 7.5 lakh voters
would have been deprived of their right to vote.

No action on the complaints made by TDP


6. The TDP has given a number of complaints from 11th
February, 2019 on issues such as violation of model code,
unauthorized deletion of genuine voters, maligning
campaign by YSR Congress Party and electronic transfer of

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money to voters by prasanth kishore team etc., not a single
complaint was acted up on. A list of complaints given is
enclosed as Annexure-I.

Loss of Credibility in the eyes of citizens


7. Recently, about 66 retired senior Civil Servants
belonging to IAS,IPS,IFS and other All India Services have
sent a letter to the President of India alleging that ECI’s
conduct is not fair and impartial. They have quoted several
episodes of its decisions which are not based on any
rationale or principals of equal treatment. They have
specifically mentioned about the transfer of the Chief
Secretary of Andhra Pradesh and other Senior Police officials
of A.P. In essence, they expressed that “the ECI’s
independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency are
perceived to be compromised today, thereby endangering
the integrity of the electoral process which is the very
foundation of Indian democracy. We are distressed to note
the misuse, abuse and blatant disregard of the Model Code
of Conduct(MCC) by the ruling party at the centre, and the
ECI’s pusillanimity in coming down with a heavy hand on
these violations”. There cannot be harsher reprimand by
enlightened citizens over the biased actions of the
Commission. This vindicates our concern over the
objectionable style of functioning of Election Commission
and its actions with prejudice against TDP.

Political vendetta against TDP leaders


8. Further, I bring to your notice that after TDP quitting
the NDA, the ruling Bharatiya Janata party at the
centre, and its leadership started targeting the political
leaders belonging to the TDP in connivance with YSR
Congress Party, not only politically but also using various
Central Agencies like Income Tax, Enforcement Directorate
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etc against our party leaders. These raids continued not
only before the commencement of election code of
conduct, but also during the election process. Majority of
the TDP leaders were selectively raided one after the other
thus hitting at the morale of the leaders psychologically by
distracting them from the election campaign work. These
institutions did not touch even a single candidate or leader
be belonging to YSR Congress Party. Is it not the prime
responsibility of the Election Commission of India to control
these agencies, to ensure that there is no political vendetta
and victimization of political opponents, especially when the
model code is in force ?. There were raids on many
contesting candidates just one or two days before the day
of polling. Is it not the responsibility the Election
Commission to curb such politically motivated raids on the
TDP only to throttle the election campaign of TDP
candidates.

Frivolous complaints of YSR Congress Party acted upon


unilaterally

9. The office bearers of the YSR Congress Party who


are prime accused in many economic offences and who
frequently moved in the corridors of PMO, also had a free
and frequent access to the ECI, and got their baseless
complaints acted upon with such an audacity, that sent a
wrong message across the administration in the state that
if the concerned officer has to continue, they have to toe the
line of YSR Congress Party. The one sided arbitrary actions of
the Election Commission against the officers of state
government on the frivolous complaints made by the YSR
Congress Party leaders who are accused in 31 criminal
cases, deeply disturbed the stability of the administration
and sent the entire administrative setup in to a defensive
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mode. In other words, the entire administration was
compelled to engage in answering the frivolous complaints
made by the YSR Congress Party and as a result the officers
could not focus on the election related administration and the
electoral process. While taking action against the officers on
these frivolous complaints, the principles of natural justice
were also not followed. The one sided action on the
complaints made by the YSR Congress Party and the
complete inaction on the complaints made by the TDP set the
tone for the highly partisan behavior of the Election
Commission. To cite an incident, the Election Commission
compelled the DIG of Anantapur to relieve a police officer Sri
Gorantla Madhav, having criminal complaints and
departmental proceedings pending against him, to enable
him to contest as a candidate on behalf of the YSR Congress
Party from Anantapur District. There are a number of such
examples that strongly demonstrate a close nexus
between the Election Commission and the YSR Congress
Party. Is it not defeating the spirit of fair play, neutrality and
level playing field during the election process?. Can Election
Commission defend such actions?

Colossal failure of Election Machinery in protecting the


voters fundamental rights to vote

10. After forcing the state administration to such a


defensive mode and resorting to such arbitrary actions the
Election Commission did not focus on basics of governance
like deploying enough police force in polling booths, acting
upon the criminal elements, training its personnel, and
providing basic facilities at polling stations.

11. As soon as the scheduled polling time started on 11-


04-2019, all polling stations were crowded with women and
old people standing in long queues to cast their vote. To their
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shock and agony at many places, the polling process could
not be started as the EVMs either malfunctioned or dys-
functioned. The women and other senior citizens immensely
suffered in long queues and scorching heat of 40 degrees
while awaiting the replacement and rectification of the EVMS
which could not take place, even after 2-6 hours after the
commencement of the scheduled time of polling. In other
words, the inept handling of the Election Commission forced
the voters to return home, depriving them of the right to
exercise their franchise. The list of polling stations where
EVMs malfunctioned or dysfunctioned and the polling could
not start even 2-6 hours after the scheduled time is enclosed
at Annexure-II. There were some polling booths where the
EVMs were replaced three times, but even then they did not
work. It is pertinent to mention that even the Chief Electoral
Officer of the state was a victim of the malfunctioning of the
EVM and had to come again at 2 pm to vote. Further, the
new Chief Secretary when he went to vote was surrounded
by people for the failure of the administration to provide
basic facilities at polling stations, non functioning of EVMs
and long and arduous wait. Women revolted against the
election staff and cursed the EC for its bungling. All these
examples clearly indicate that the Election Commission,
instead of focusing on its prime duty of election conduction
process, tried to be hyperactive in transferring the
administrative officers on the frivolous complaints of the YSR
Congress Party and paralyzed the machinery.

Inadequate police force despite request by the State


Police Dept

12. To aggravate the matters further, the inadequate


security arrangements at polling booths, emboldened the
criminal elements that resulted in many law and order
incidents which resulted in not only loss of lives and injuries
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but also terrorized the peace loving voters to come out freely
and vote.

13. The list of polling stations where large scale violence


took place as a result of poor security and failure in taking
preventive measures is enclosed as Annexure-III. Though
the State Police made a request for providing sufficient Police
forces the Election Commission has not provided the required
forces. As against the requirement of 92,654 police personnel
the deficiency was 27,806. Many of the polling stations were
just managed by a single home guard or a volunteer.
Knowing fully well that the Andhra Pradesh is going for single
day poll for all its 25 Parliamentary Constituencies and the
State is infested with Maoist problem across the border with
Orissa, faction prone areas in Rayalaseema Districts, the
Election Commission did not bother to ensure adequate
police force. Instead, polling was planned on a single day for
the entire State for reasons best known to them while
conducting elections in 4 phases in a much smaller state like
Orissa.

Protection of citizens right to vote

14. Further, due to the lack of a proper preparation by the


Election Commission and its inept handling of the entire
process, the polling process continued up to 4.30 a.m. on the
next day. Details of the number of polling stations poll took
place beyond 6.00 PM is placed at Annexure-IV. Women
with small children and the old people were deprived of even
basic human facilities like drinking water. The people who left
polling stations without voting due to non functioning of the
EVM, did not return again to exercise their franchise and lost
their right to vote. And as a result the TDP has requested for
the Adjournment poll in 618 Polling stations in the state
where the polling process could not start many hours after

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the scheduled commencement time and thereby many voters
were deprived of their right to vote (list placed at Annexure-
V). If adjourned poll is conducted again the voters who could
not vote can use this opportunity to cast their votes.

Ensure Tamper-proof EVMs & counting of 50% of


VVPATs

15. The EVMs were introduced since 1982 on


experimental basis and now they are being used all over the
country. However, there are doubts regarding the
tamperability of the EVMs. To clarify doubts in the minds of
voters as to his vote has gone to the candidate of his/her
choice, the ECI introduced voter VVPATs in all the assembly
segments. The Election Commission has stipulated
verification of VVPAT slips of one polling station only for
assembly segment.22 political parties have filed a petition in
the Supreme Court of India requesting directions to count
the slips in at least 50% of the voting machines. However,
the Election Commission has stated before the Supreme
Court that it will take 6 days for counting the voter slips of
one assembly constituency. Prior to the introduction of EVMs,
when paper ballots were used, counting of votes could be
completed within 10 to 12 hours in most of the cases and
within 24 hours in rest of the constituencies. Therefore, the
Election Commission’s view that it takes 6 days for counting
is not based on facts.

Further in this regard, as per ECI - One Time Programmable


(OTP) chip is used in the M3 machines, where the software
burnt on to the chip once cannot be rewritten / modified /
erased. However, there are numerous instances (observed at
pileru, Parchuru, Vijayawda & many more locations) where
the VVPAT slip is shown for only 3 secs as against the 7 secs
as mentioned by ECI in their manuals and seen in various

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videos uploaded by ECI on youtube regarding VVPATs. These
inconsistencies should not arise when the same code is burnt
on to the One Time Programmable (OTP) Chips and show
that there is a possibility of changing the machine or chip or
duplication of the motherboard inside the machine. This puts
a question mark on the whole polling considering that 100%
of polling is done on these machines, placing the democracy
at risk.

As per the voting process mentioned by ECI, the ballot paper is


displayed behind a transparent window of VVPAT for 7 seconds
and it takes 11 seconds to prepare the EVM for casting of a new
vote.

● A possible manipulated scenario is mentioned below for your


information:

○ Say machine is manipulated to favor apple: voter sees


the following steps

Voter-1 votes for Candidate 1

Machine prints Candidate 1

Turn light on - shows Candidate 1 to voter

Turn light off

Voter-2 votes for Candidate 1

turn light on - show same Candidate 1 shown to voter-1

turn light off

cut the paper with Candidate 1

keep light off - print one Candidate 2 and cut it

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○ In case voter-2 voted for Candidate 2/ candidate 3,
then VVPAT can roll down the Candidate 1, cut it, then
print Candidate 2/ candidate 3, turn light on, and roll
down paper slip with Candidate 2/ candidate 3 and cut
paper slip with Candidate 2/ candidate 3.

● In such scenarios, vote manipulation occurs when there are


two or more CONSECUTIVE voters voting for same symbol.

It has been mentioned in the EVM-VVPAT Manual Feb 2019 on


ECI website, that as a part of testing process the following
should be checked-

- The ballot slip is displayed behind a transparent window of


VVPAT for 7 seconds. Verify the candidate number, symbol
and name of the candidate in the slip. After that, ballot slip
will automatically cut and fall into the Ballot slip
compartment.

- Repeat steps for all the other candidates on the Ballot Unit.
Check whether VVPAT prints the selected candidate
information.

- Continue polling for minimum of 96 votes i.e. by giving 6


vote to each candidate button. Note down the Ballot voted.

This check should have eliminated the discrepancy of VVPAT


displaying the balloting slip for different seconds (between 3
secs to 7 secs) in different polling stations.

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One more apprehension that Telugu Desam Party would like to
highlight is that all the machines that are used in the recent
polling were recalled by BEL for maintenance in December 2018.
However, it is not known what was done as a part of this
maintenance.

Another issue is that these machines were handled by BEL


contractual engineers during the polling process. There is no
background available regarding these engineers who handle the
most critical technical part of the machines during the polling.
Transparency is the bedrock for election process - where each
and every step of the process is clearly known either to the
public or to the political parties contesting as a part of the
checks and balances that are in built into our administrative
system. However, this lack of visibility on the BEL employees
makes the machines / process vulnerable to manipulation /
tampering. There are multiple instances reported where
machines are changed as they were not working and the new
machines already had some votes recorded when they were
installed.

Such instances coupled with lack of information on the


engineers who handle the machines raises questions on the
sanctity of the polling further. In the recent Andhra Pradesh
election, where the voter turnout is ~80%, if these machines
are manipulated, that could make our whole democracy a farce.
We also strongly believe that ECI should see to it that the
political parties are informed and conduct an independent audit
by technology experts from the industry acceptable to all the
political parties in order to infuse confidence in the present set
of EVMs used in the elections of Andhra Pradesh.

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16. As could be seen from various issues cited above, the
Election Commission failed to ensure level playing field, make
proper arrangements, and facilitate voters of AP to exercise
their franchise in a free and fair manner. It caused immense
pain and suffering to the voters due to its mismanagement and
connivance with the YSR Congress Party.

17. Under these circumstances we demand the following


issues to be examined and complied with in the interest of
justice and to save democracy in this great country.

i. to order for conduct of "adjourned poll" for all


618 polling stations (list enclosed) under para #
13.60 and 13.61 of ROs Hand Book, 2019.
ii. to cause an inquiry into large scale mal-
functioning/ dys-functioning of EVMs and
establish the causes for such large scale failure
of EVMs.
iii. to supply of the information regarding the IP
addresses of the Form 7 applicants as
requested by the AP Police SIT for completion
of investigation.

iv. The Election Commission should ensure


counting of VVPAT slips in at least 50% of the
polling stations so as to infuse confidence
among the voters.

v. Though the recent Supreme Court decision,


based on the affidavit of the ECI has suggested to
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count at least 5 VVPAT slips per Constituency, the
mechanism to proceed further if there is
discrepancy between the votes counted and the
VVPAT slips has not been suggested so far. EC
shall issue orders to conduct counting of all the
VVPAT slips at all the polling stations in the
assembly segments in case of such discrepancy.
vi. India still has a large no of illiterate voters who
cannot understand complex systems of EVMs.
Present EVM has become too complicated even
for educated voters. Further, voting through
EVMs does not provide fool proof evidence to the
voter that his vote has gone to the candidate of
his choice as is the case of paper ballot. This
technical limitation coupled with failure of
hundreds of EVMs during the course of polling
and their frequent replacement by different
technicians, as it happened in Andhra Pradesh,
fills the minds of contesting candidates and voters
with suspicion and possibility of foul play. The
contesting candidate is not sure whether the
votes cast in his favor are getting recorded as per
the true intention/choice of the voter or not.
Unless and until this confidence is infused in the
voters and the contesting candidates, democracy
has no meaning. In this context, I once again

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reiterate the voice of the first Chief Election
Commissioner of India Sri Sukumar Sen......
"......Given the low level of literacy of the country's
populace, we need to ensure that the voter is enabled
and empowered to exercise the franchise, keeping the
process of voting as simple and solid as possible.
Though not well educated an average Indian voter's
wisdom is the touchstone of our democracy. Our
every step should aim at strengthening the voter's
trust in the voting process. Else it will jeopardize the
voter's trust and confidence in the institutions that are
endowed with this responsibility."

18. Therefore, we demand the Election


Commission of India for reverting to paper ballot
system immediately to preserve the sanctity and
protect the spirit of electoral process and
democracy respectively.

Yours sincerely,

(NARA CHANDRABABU NAIDU)


President

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