Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu doubled his efforts to unite the Opposition in an effort to form a non-NDA front, as Lok Sabha election exit polls predicted a comfortable win for the BJP-led coalition on counting day scheduled for 23 May. The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief, who was an ally with the saffron party in the NDA, met several Opposition leaders over Sunday and Monday.
Naidu also said he was "1,000 percent confident" that the TDP will win the Assembly election in Andhra Pradesh. "I am 1,000 percent confident that TDP will win the elections. I do not have even 0.1 percent doubt. We are going to win," he said at a press conference on Monday.
EC is losing credibility: Naidu
Naidu, in a press conference on Monday criticised the Election Commission for refusing to give in to the demand for increased EVM-VVPAT verification. Naidu has been at the helm of the demand to have 50 percent of the EVMs verified with VVPAT slips.
In April, 21 Opposition parties had put forth the appeal in the Supreme Court, after which the apex court had increased the number of EVMs to be verified from one to give in each Assembly constituency.
However, the Opposition was dissatisfied with the order and has continued to voice its disapproval with the EC. Naidu said, "I have been fighting over this issue for the last ten years. VVPAT slips are the main issue for us. If we get a printout, we will believe. Now VVPATs will be counted in only five polling booths (per Assembly segment)."
"The Election Commission is complicating the issue by saying that it will take six to seven days to count VVPATs. SY Qureshi (former Chief Election Commissioner) supported our arguments. Not only us, but even former EC officials are raising the matter," he added.
Claiming that the EC is "losing its credibility", Naidu said that VVPAT slips should be counted first and verified properly. "There are many problems relating to the counting process. The EC should take steps to resolve them. There are many rumours including that printers may have been manipulated and control panels changed," he said.
Naidu to meet Mamata Banerjee today
Naidu, who met Congress president Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Sunday, is likely to meet West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata on Monday. "Naidu will hold a meeting with Mamata at West Bengal secretariat this afternoon. Both will hold talks on the strategies of the 'mahagatbandhan' (grand alliance)," a highly placed source was quoted by PTI as saying.
During his interaction with Mamata, Naidu is expected to brief her about his meetings with all political leaders in New Delhi over the weekend. Naidu had a busy weekend as he called on Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, in addition to the Gandhis.
On Saturday, he had met Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav. Sunday's meeting assumes significance as Naidu is meeting Rahul and Pawar after holding talks with the SP and BSP chiefs, who have not openly come in favour of an Opposition alliance so far.
The Telugu Desam Party chief has held several rounds of discussion with various Opposition leaders, including TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal and CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury.
Exit polls never capture 'pulse' of people, says Naidu
The Opposition has been vocally confident that the sweep predicted for the Narendra Modi-led BJP in the exit polls is not the true picture on the ground. Naidu, on his part, on Sunday said that the exit polls had failed to catch the people's pulse.
"Time and again exit polls have failed to catch the people's pulse. Exit polls have proved to be incorrect and far from ground reality in many instances. While undoubtedly TDP government will be formed in Andhra Pradesh, we are confident that non-BJP parties will form a non-BJP government at the Centre," tweeted Naidu.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: May 20, 2019 22:34:27 IST