BENGALURU: The Election Commission put off polling in the upmarket Rajarajeshwari Nagar Assembly constituency to May 28, hours before commencement of voting across Karnataka as top BJP leaders lodged a complaint and turned the issue of confiscation of more than 9700 voter ID cards into a major controversy, levelling allegations of rigging by Congress legislator and candidate Munirathna.
Dealing a huge blow to the Congress, the BJP called for Munirathna's arrest and the countermanding of the poll in RR Nagar, after it found the perfect weapon to beat the Congress dubbing it a party run by moneybags for moneybags who are trying to steal the election.
The decision on postponement of polling in this constituency in Bengaluru city was announced by Chief Electoral Officer Sanjiv Kumar on Friday evening following investigation by a top official of the Election Commission into a complaint submitted by top BJP leaders who had demanded countermanding the election in this constituency.
While polling will take place on May 28, the votes will be counted on May 31.
“The conduct of free and fair polls in Rajarajeshwari Nagar will not be possible if the ongoing electoral process is allowed to proceed... Voting is a sacred and secret activity. Every voter has the freedom to cast their vote without facing any inducement. However, this case is a glaring instance where this has been compromised on a large scale in a systematic manner, beginning much before the poll date,” Mr Kumar said in Bengaluru.
He said all ID cards seized will be verified and returned to voters besides issuing a fresh notification for polling on May 28.
Let voters carry extra ID: BJP
Late on Friday night, BJP general secretary in-charge of Karnataka P. Muralidhar Rao said, “Reports are pouring in about the ruling Congress party misusing official machinery to rig the voting, and the Election Commission should not allow such malpractices.”
Meanwhile, his colleague and MP Shobha Karandlaje demanded the arrest of Mr Munirathna in connection with confiscation of the voter ID cards.
Three people have been arrested in connection with confiscation of these voter ID cards from an apartment here on May 8. They have been identified as Chinnathambhi, Chinnadorai and Sharavana. A FIR has been registered against Mr Munirathna and 13 others including seven women following a complaint lodged by Bhaskar J R, the nodal officer of the Model Code of Conduct Flying Squad in Rajarajeshwari Nagar Assembly constituency. Police officers also summoned the legislator, named accused number 14 in the FIR for questioning, and interrogated security guards and the owner of the flat, Manjula and her son Sreedhar.
IT raids Sail, Kulkarni
In what could be further embarrassment for the Congress, the Directorate of Income Tax (Investigation) on Friday reportedly searched the premises of businessman Mangaldas Kamat at Avarsa village of Ankola in Uttara Kannada district. Kamat is said to be closely linked with Karwar-Ankola MLA and candidate Satish Sail. The DGIT also conducted similar operations at other places including the premises of Prashanth Kekare, PA to Mines & Geology minister Vinay Kulkarni at his house in Dharwad. The DGIT has denied it was targetting only Congress....