To the surprise of many, the Election Commission of India has announced that polling in Nizamabad Lok Sabha constituency in Telangana would be done by ballot papers and not Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) for the upcoming elections on April 11.
The announcement sparked the question – Why?
Many asked why this constituency was given the special status while the rest of the country had the polling done through EVMs.
Why ballot and not EVMs?
The Election Commission explained that a Lok Sabha constituency with more than 64 candidates will have ballot paper polling instead of EVMs. Nizamabad, the third largest city in Telangana, saw 245 aspiring candidates filing their nominations. Most of them are farmers demanding the government to allow an appropriate price for their red jowar crops.
EVMs can only accommodate 16 names with the control unit capable of recording the voting of four EVMs linked together. In total, each control unit can record the maximum of 64 candidates and since there are a whopping 185 candidates in the fray in Nizamabad, the Election Commission has no choice but to conduct a paper ballot in the constituency. Hindustan Times reports that Nizamabad alone has 1.5 million voters.
The deadline to withdraw nominations was March 28. The Election Commission has closely examined the candidates and narrowed the list to 185.
Who are the candidates?
Farmers' leader K Avnesh Reddy was proud that so many farmers are contesting the polls on April 11. He said that even though there was so much pressure by the bigger political parties on the farmers to withdraw their candidature, the farmers till stood their ground and will now have a chance to get elected and bring their problems to the Centre.
Kalvakuntla Kavitha, the daughter of Telangana Rashtra Samithi president and Chief Minister Chandrashekar Rao, currently holds power in Nizamabad and will contest from her constituency.
Congress candidate Madhu Yashki Goud and Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Dharmapuri Aravind are the candidates form the big leagues. There are four more candidates from recognised political parties while the rest are contesting as independent candidates.
"More than 200 nominations were filed till the last date on March 25 and after the rejection of some of the nominations during scrutiny, as many as 189 candidates remained in the contest. Of them, four contestants withdrew their papers," Telangana chief electoral officer Rajat Kumar was quoted as saying by HT.
He added, "We will go for voting through ballot papers as it is not possible to conduct the polls using EVMs. We represented the matter to Election Commission of India and are awaiting instructions."
Will the ballot result be announced at the same time as the EVM results?
Kumar was not sure on how long it will take for the EC to print out the ballot paper due to the sheer number of candidates. He said, "First we have to allot symbols to all the contestants. We should also make the arrangements for procurement of ballot boxes. The EC will take care of all the logistic arrangements."
After the withdrawal of several nominations, as of Friday, the Nizamabad Lok Sabha constituency still has 185 candidates and 178 of them are farmers. Since counting the ballot would take time, it is speculated that the outcome of the result in the constituency would be delayed.