New Delhi: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu met Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora in Delhi on Saturday and submitted a memorandum alleging that a large number of EVMs malfunctioned during polling in the state on Thursday.
Following Chandrababu's request seeking an expert from his delegation to be involved in the technical discussion on EVMs, the Election Commission accepted the request.
However, the technical expert turned out to be a Hyderabad-based researcher, Hari Prasad, who was arrested in an EVM theft case in 2010. Hari Prasad was already a part of the delegation which met the Election Commission on Saturday morning. Later, his name was suggested as a part of the TDP expert team by the Andhra Pradesh resident commissioner for the meeting with the EC officials at 4 pm on Saturday.
Upon running a quick check, the EC officials realized that Hari Prasad was the same person who has been claiming for a long time that EVMs are not tamper-proof. In 2010, he was arrested for illegally procuring an EVM but later was released on bail. Even prior to this, Hari Prasad has been questioning EVMs and even attended the EVM challenge conducted by EC in 2009. Nevertheless, he failed to prove that the machine could be tampered with or hacked.
On Saturday evening, Hari Prasad along with a member of TDP legal cell arrived for the meeting with Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain and Prof Emeritus at IIT D T Shahani who is on the technical expert committee attached to EC. During the meeting, the officials raised Hari Prasad's criminal past leaving the TDP experts flustered following which they left immediately.
In a stern letter to the president of TDP legal cell, the EC questioned as to how Hari Prasad with his criminal history was allowed to be a part of the delegation led by Chandrababu Naidu.
Attaching media reports and photographs of his arrest for EVM theft in 2010, EC wrote in the letter that irrespective of the eventual outcome of the investigation, a person with such records shouldn't be involved. The EC further conveyed that they would continue the discussions with any other expert who does not have a similar past.