Deccan Chronicle

Seethakka's gaffe sparks cross-voting controversy

Deccan Chronicle. | DC Correspondent

Published on: July 18, 2022 | Updated on: July 18, 2022
MLA Danasari Anasuya alias Seethakka.

MLA Danasari Anasuya alias Seethakka.

HYDERABAD: In what comes as a major embarrassment to Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) president A. Revanth Reddy, Congress MLA Danasari Anasuya alias Seethakka, has landed in a ‘cross-voting controversy’ in the Presidential election polling held on Monday.

Seethakka is known to be a close associate of Revanth since they worked together in the Telugu Desam (TD) till 2017. She quit the TD along with Revanth and both of them joined the Congress in November 2017. Of the six Congress MLAs in Telangana, Seethakka is known to be the only strong follower of Revanth.

While casting her vote for the Presidential election in the polling booth set up on the Legislative Assembly premises on Monday, Seethakka sought fresh ballot paper saying that she marked erroneously on ballot paper. However, officials rejected her request citing Election Commission norms.

This incident triggered speculations that Seethakka did cross-voting in favour of NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu.

To cover up, she enacted this 'drama', it is speculated. There was a heated discussion among MLAs of all parties on the Assembly premises who opined that Seethakka might have voted for Droupadi Murmu, since she was the first-ever woman candidate from Scheduled Tribes category for Presidential election. Seethakka represents Mulugu Assembly constituency, which is reserved for STs.

But Seethakka dismissed these reports saying she marked correctly as per party's decision but since she marked erroneously on open space on ballot paper prior to her marking for candidate, she feared that her vote may become invalid and therefore sought a fresh ballot.

Speaking to media on the Assembly premises after casting her vote, Seethakka said, "A malicious campaign is being undertaken by some people that I indulged in cross-voting. It's totally false and baseless. If I had voted for NDA, why would I ask for a fresh ballot paper again and argue with the Election Commission officials in the polling booth?"

She added that the error occurred when she was attempting to mark with the pen on ballot paper. "When I was looking at the ballot paper holding the marker pen in my hand given by officials, accidentally I marked it on the open space on the ballot paper and not in the space provided against the candidate's name. I feared this may lead to officials declaring my vote invalid during counting and sought a fresh ballot paper. But officials refused to give me a new ballot paper. Later, I cast my vote using the same old ballot paper by marking the candidate chosen by our party. I did not indulge in any cross-voting," Seethakka explained.

She said her honesty and loyalty to the Congress remained unquestionable and she never backstabbed any party or any leader in her political career while working in any party, be it the TD or the Congress.

Seethakka stated that she had no clue over whether her vote would be treated as valid or invalid during counting on July 21 adding that Election officials did not give any clarity on this issue.

With the Telangana Congress already being divided as ‘seniors-juniors’ and ‘old timers-newcomers’ after Revanth became TPCC chief last year, the Seethakka episode is expected to provide ammunition to Revanth’s rivals in the Congress.

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