Kolkata, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee, who have been pivotal in stitching an opposition alliance against the BJP, met here on Monday to discuss the post poll strategies and their concerns over EVMs.
Both the leaders, however, remained tight lipped about the context of the meeting that was held in Banerjee’s residence in south Kolkata’s Kalighat, a day after the final phase of 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Sources close to the Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress said the political heavyweights discussed about the importance of uniting all the anti-BJP parties under one umbrella and constituting a common minimum agenda before the poll results are announced on May 23.
Trinamool Congress said the opposition parties will meet the Election Commission on Tuesday (May 21) to express their concerns about Electronic voting machines (EVMs).
Both Naidu and Banerjee have rubbished the exit polls’ claim on Sunday, all of which predicted a comeback for the BJP — While some showed the NDA will secure majority, others predicted a landslide victory for the saffron party.
In a tweet on Sunday evening, Banerjee termed the exit polls as “gossips” and claimed that BJP’s game plan is to “manipulate or replace thousands of EVMs through this gossip”.
Virtually echoing Banerjee’s concerns, Naidu also claimed that the records of at least 50 per cent VVPATs (Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail machines) should be matched with the corresponding EVMs to avoid any form of discrepancy.
“We are asking for 50 per cent VVPAT counting. They are not doing… where the Supreme Court has given orders to go for counting after EVMs counting is over. Now we are asking — if there is any discrepancy then you have to go for total counting of that assembly segment. Why you are delaying? Why you are avoiding? They are unable to frame rules till now.” Naidu had said before coming here.
“People are talking all over the world now that there is a possibility of EVM manipulation. Even that type of discussion is there, can we not bring transparency?” he asked.
Naidu’s visit to the Trinamool Congress supremo’s residence ahead of the poll results is significant after most of the exit polls predicted an unprecedented surge of BJP in West Bengal which would dent Banerjee’s aspirations of winning all 42 seats in Bengal, while an aggregate of exit polls also indicated that Jaganmohan Reddy, Naidu’s arch-rival in Andhra Pradesh, will win 15 of the state’s 25 seats while he gets 10.
In a bid to strengthen the anti-BJP alliance, Naidu had met Congress President Rahul Gandhi, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury on the final day of polling on Sunday.
He has met Banerjee a number of times in recent months and also campaigned for her party candidates in two election rallies in Bengal’s Jhargram and Haldia where he had termed Banerjee as “the Bengal tigress”.