After nine years, the Election Commission might be burdened with the task of counting ballot papers since out of the total 545 candidates in the state, 185 candidates have filed nominations from the Nizamabad constituency alone for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Agitating farmers in the district, who have been demanding a National Turmeric Board to ensure steady prices for turmeric, filed around 200 nominations against sitting MP Kalvakuntla Kavitha to highlight their plight. After scrutiny, the total number of candidates in the fray from Nizamabad is 185, according to the Chief Election Officer, E Rajat Kumar.
Due to the overwhelming number of candidates which the EVMs are incapable of handling, authorities have decided to switch back to the traditional system of ballot paper voting in Nizamabad. EVMs can accommodate only 64 candidate names, including NOTA (None of the Above).
This protest of filing nominations en masse is not a unique one – the precedent was first set in 1996 in Nalgonda, Telangana, when 480 candidates contested from one constituency to highlight the fluorosis crisis which is still prevalent in the state. The authorities then had to print a booklet for voters to cast their votes.
Again in 2010 bye-polls, during the Telangana statehood agitation, elections were held through ballot papers in the five constituencies of Huzurabad, Warangal West, Sircilla, Korutla and Yellareddy after the sitting TRS MLAs had resigned in protest for Telangana.
Polling date for Nizamabad to be changed?
Due to the present crisis, uncertainty prevails over when the elections in Nizamabad constituency will be held. The Election Commission of India (ECI) had announced that elections for Telangana Lok Sabha would be conducted in a single phase on April 11. CEO Rajat Kumar on Thursday told media said that they have written to the ECI detailing the crisis in Nizamabad and the central body will take a decision.
“The date of elections will be decided by ECI. We have sent them the facts and details of how many candidates are contesting, how we are going to print ballot papers, etc. After considering all the factors, they will make a decision,” he said.
The CEO added that they have also written to the ECI seeking their guidance in designing the ballot paper. “We have asked them if it should be a single sheet, but it will be too long. After getting a response, we will let you know,” he said.
Rajat Kumar said that there won’t be any problem in allotting symbols to the candidates as they have enough symbols.
Why are farmers contesting polls?
Nizamabad is the constituency of Kalakuntla Kavitha, who also the daughter of TRS president and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. From Congress, Madhu Yashki and D Aravind from BJP are contesting against her.
In 2014, Kavitha had promised of establishing a National Turmeric Board to ensure a steady price for turmeric, which is grown widely in Nizamabad.
However, that promise didn’t materialize even after moving a Private Members Bill.
With the market price of turmeric plummeting, the farmers, since February, have been demanding that both turmeric and red jowar (sorghum) should be provided with Minimum Support Price (MSP). After a police crackdown on their agitation, farmers filed mass nominations as a form of protest.