The YSRCP party in Andhra Pradesh has written to the Election Commission of India (ECI) alleging that the Narayana Group of Educational Institutions has been illegally collecting voter data from students and their families. Ponguru Narayana, who is the founder of the group’s educational institutes, is also a former MLA and a prominent leader in Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the state’s main opposition party.
Attaching a sample of the forms allegedly used to collect voter data, YSRCP’s letter says that the names of students and family members, address, booth number, ward number, division and voter ID were being collected.
“The Narayan educational institutions are following these corrupt practices to induce family members of students using undue influence or giving some kind of bribe or gratification. Voter privacy is sacred and essential and it reduces the threat of coercion, vote buying and selling and tampering. For individual voters, it provides the ability to exercise their vote without intimidation or retaliation. The secret ballot is a cornerstone of modern democracies. By collecting the sensitive information of Voter IDs and booth numbers, the Narayana educational institutions are encroaching upon the personal privacy of voters which is against the spirit of democracy,” the letter reads.
The letter adds, “Collecting the personal details of students is completely contrary to the spirit of a free, and fair election process. It is nothing but theft and stealing of personal data which is guaranteed under the Constitution and is a violation of personal liberty and the privacy of an individual. It could be construed as an inducement, which falls under corrupt practices under Section 123 of the Representation of People Act, 1951. The actions of the Narayana Group and its founder P Narayana are condemnable and require action to be taken.” The letter also demands a detailed enquiry, seizing of the data collected from the students and to punish and debar Narayan and any others responsible.
Earlier in July 2023, Narayana's sister-in-law Kirshna Priya had accused Narayana of sexual harassment and had lodged a complaint at the Raidurgam police station in Hyderabad, Telangana. At the time, Priya's husband P Subramanyam had supported his brother and denied her allegations, even claiming that Priya was suffering from mental health issues due to the cancer treatment she was undergoing.