Nizamabad constituency in Telangana posed a peculiar challenge for the Election Commission—accommodating as many as 185 candidates on the electronic voting machines for the coming Lok Sabha polls. In the end, it turns out that the Election Commission found a way out of the tricky situation, and the solution involves connecting four ballot units to the EVMs.
As many as 245 individuals had filed nomination papers in the constituency, and there are now 185 candidates in the fray for the election to be held in the first phase of polls on April 11. The record number of candidates is a result of farmers—mostly turmeric and jowar growers—standing in these elections as a mark of protest against the state and Central governments for not providing them with proper prices for their produce. A major demand of the farmers is the setting up of a Turmeric Board.
The constituency is represented by K. Kavitha, who is the daughter of Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao. Kavitha is seeking re-election from Nizamabad, and fighting against her is Congress's Madhu Yaskhi Goud.
“Telangana will create history by conducting elections with 185 candidates with EVMs as more than four ballot units will be used in the constituency for the first time in the country,” said Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha.
In the wake of the large number of nominations, there was speculation that the Election Commission might have to resort to election through ballot paper as the EVM would not be able to accommodate so many candidates.
However, the Election Commission finally decided to go ahead with elections through EVMs in Nizamabad, as trials proved that the new-generation M3 machines made it possible to connect multiple ballot units with one control unit.
As per an EC official, the M3 machines make possible connecting 24 ballot units with one control unit to cater to up to 384 candidates. The new generation of EVMs are being produced since 2013.
Sinha, meanwhile, held a series of meetings with the Chief Electoral Officer of Telangana Dr Rajat Kumar and other election-related authorities on April 1 and 2 in Hyderabad to review the special arrangements made for the conduct of elections in Nizamabad.
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A detailed evaluation of the logistical requirements and various EVM protocols was undertaken. The election officials also witnessed a live demonstration of the working of EVMs using 12 ballot units and were satisfied with the preparedness for elections in the constituency.
The EC team met Chief Secretary Dr S.K. Joshi, DG Police and other senior officials of the Telangana government. The chief secretary agreed to deploy additional resources in Nizamabad in the form of additional officers and budget as per the CEO's requirement. He also informed that a helicopter will be placed at the disposal of the returning officer, Nizamabad.
In 1996, ballot paper was used when 480 candidates were in the fray in Nalgonda seat in the Lok Sabha election.