Just three days before Karnataka Assembly election 2018, the Election Commission of Karnataka has confirmed that the officials recovered 9,746 Electors Photo Identity Card (EPIC) from an apartment in Bengaluru’s Jalahalli area of the Raja Rajeshwari Nagar constituency. Reacting to the development, the BJP demanded cancellation of polling in Raja Rajeshwari Nagar, accusing the Congress of trying to “rig” the polls. Congress hit back, saying that a BJP leader was the owner of the Bengaluru flat from where the ‘fake’ voter cards had been found.
The development came hours after former Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi faced off against each other while campaigning in Karnataka. The prime minister and the UPA chairperson attacked each other with stinging barbs, with Modi accusing Gandhi and her son (Congress President) Rahul Gandhi of destroying Congress to save the “dynasty”, and Gandhi saying Modi’s speeches alone could not “fill empty stomachs”.
Polling in the Karnataka Assembly election 2018 will be held on May 12 and the results will be out on May 15.
In a midnight briefing, Chief Electoral Officer for Karnataka Sanjiv Kumar said that according to the preliminary verification, the ID cards were of actual electors and appeared to be prima facie genuine.
According to the state election commission, the voters ID cards were kept neatly in small bundles that were wrapped in paper, with some names and phone numbers on the paper.
The recovery was made during a surprise visit to Parkview apartment in Jalahalli area, which belongs to Manjula Nanjamuri and was allegedly rented to a person named Rakesh.
Apart from the IDs, five laptops, one printer, and two large steel trunks with counterfoil strips resembling acknowledgement slips of Form 6 used for addition of names onto the electoral rolls were also recovered from the apartment during the raid. Kumar added that the significance of the counterfoils can only be verified after due investigation.
“These may be numbering around a lakh. There is a need for further verification and inquiry. These have photographs and a printed number in magenta colour which is different than the officially available Form 6 which has no printed number,” Kumar said.
The state election commission added that an FIR has been registered in the matter and further investigations will be conducted on the same. It further assured that in the next 24 hours, when more information is available, firm action will be taken.
After the state EC’s announcement, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded that elections in the Raj Rajeshwari Nagar constituency of Karanataka be countermanded in the light of the revelation of seizure of ‘fake’ voter IDs.
Speaking to media over the matter, BJP leader and Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said, “Congress is losing public support and they are trying hard to rig the upcoming elections in Karnataka by undemocratic ways. So, we demand countermanding of polls in Raja Rajeshwari Nagar constituency.”
The Congress Party refuted the ‘fake’ voter ID cards allegation levelled against it by the BJP and alleged that the flat from where the documents were recovered belonged to a BJP leader. Addressing the media, Congress spokesperson in-charge Randeep Surjewala claimed that Manjula Nanjamuri, who owned the flat from where the identity cards were recovered, is a BJP leader and an ex-corporator.
He alleged that Nanjamuri rented her own flat to her son Rakesh, who contested an earlier corporation election on a BJP ticket in 2015. “The BJP enacted this drama in an apartment belonging to their own leader, Manjula Nanjamari. She has rented the apartment to her son who contested the 2015 BBMP elections on a BJP ticket,” Surjewala said.
The Congress leader also claimed that the apartment was not raided by police or officials of the Election Commission but by BJP workers. He further said that the BJP is seeking attention by levelling allegations ahead of the May 12 polls. “BJP is doing midnight drama as if Congress has something to do in the recovery of these 9,746 Voter ID cards,” he said. He termed the entire incident a part of a conspiracy by the BJP, in which they stand exposed.
Surjewala showed the list of the BJP candidates for the BBMP elections in which Rakesh’s name was mentioned from the Jalahalli ward. “On Sl. No 16 is the name Rakesh from Jalahalli ward. Is this not proof that Rakesh is in BJP?” he said.
Countering Congress’ allegations in the matter, Javadekar told news agencies that Manjula Nanjamuri had nothing to do with the BJP. “She left BJP six years ago. Manjula is a Congress person now,” said the BJP leader, adding, “They just want to blame BJP without any substance. We have proof of various things, which we will present before the EC.”
The Congress party demanded a high-level inquiry by the Election Commission against those indulging in the “conspiracy to get the election countermanded by planting fake evidence”.
Surjewala asserted that the BJP was running a factory of lies in Karnataka and that the party’s drama had been exposed. He hit out at Javadekar and said that he had the “audacity to lie by saying Manjula Nanjamari and her son Rakesh don’t belong to the BJP”.
Prakash Javadekar have also alleged that a huge amount of cash was recovered from the Badami constituency, from where incumbent Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is contesting the Karnataka polls, and asked the Election Commission to deploy a special election officer in Badami.
“In Badami, from where Siddaramaiah is contesting, a huge amount of cash was recovered from that place. This is also a shocking incident. So, the EC should put up special election officer in Badami and they should deploy more paramilitary forces,” Javadekar added.
The BJP had earlier alleged that the Congress candidate from Raja Rajeshwari Nagar, Munirathna Naidu, was behind the ‘fake’ ID cards. “Close to 20,000 fake Voters ID card recovered from @INCIndia’s Raja Rajeshwari Nagar constituency candidate Muniratna,” Karnataka BJP tweeted.
In view of the recovery of voter ID cards from a Bengaluru apartment, Janata Dal (Secular) Secretary General Danish Ali has urged the Election Commission to ensure that the Karnataka Assembly election is free and fair. While speaking to news agencies, Ali accused the Congress and the BJP of following unethical means to win the Assembly polls.
“We appeal to the EC that there should be no compromise with free and fair elections. It is a serious matter. All unethical means are being adopted by both national parties (Congress and BJP),” Ali said.
There are 435,439 electors in the Raja Rajeshwari Nagar constituency, which has an elector population ratio of 75.43. During the last special summary revision, 25,825 additions were made. Further, 19,012 additions were done during continuous updation and there have been total deletions of 8,817 persons.
Source: Business Standard