Hari Prasad Vemuru a whistle-blower, not a thief, says Chandrababu Naidu

The poll panel said Mr Prasad was involved in a criminal case regarding alleged theft of an EVM in 2010.

Vijayawada, New Delhi: AP Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu said his technology adviser Hari Prasad Vemuru, to whose presence at a meeting the Election Commission had objected on Saturday, was a whistle-blower and not a “thief”.

“On Saturday, we met the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and showed him how EVMs were not functioning properly. He (Mr Prasad) was called for discussion in the fight for transparency. He is a whistle-blower. He has not committed theft,” Mr Naidu told mediapersons in the Capital.

“I know technology. I have been promoting technology in the country. We should become masters of technology and not slaves of it,” he added.

In a letter to the TD, the Election Commission on Saturday had questioned how a person with criminal antecedents could be part of the delegation led by Nr Naidu. The poll panel said Mr Prasad was involved in a criminal case regarding alleged theft of an EVM in 2010.

In its reply, the TD said no chargesheet was filed against Mr Prasad in the last nine years.

The EC had even invited Mr Hari Prasad to participate in the first field trial of VVPATs in Delhi on July 21, 2011.

He had attended several other meetings of the EC in the last nine years, it said, adding that instead of focusing on the issue, the poll panel was “trying to avoid addressing the situation”.

At the press conference in Delhi, Mr Hari Prasad made a presentation on how EVMs were not working properly.

“The machines which are claimed to be secure are not functioning as per the manual. The manual says the voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) slip has to be displayed for seven seconds and then cut and drop into the box but it was not happening,” he said.

Showing a video which captured different functioning of three EVM machines — two from two constituencies in Andhra Pradesh and one from a demonstration given by the EC — he said: “Certain code has been changed or manipulated showcasing the differences in display time. The EC is not answering this.”

Leaders of over 20 Opposition parties, including the Congress, TD, Aam Aadmi Party, Samajwadi Party, CPI, CPM and the Trinamul were present at the press conference.

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