"The government is stealing the data of voters. The ruling BJP is indulging in election fraud through a private agency. Bommai, in-charge minister, BBMP Special Commissioner Tushar Girinath and the Election Commission are operating as one team to steal voters' data," Congress leader Surjewala said.
BENGALURU — The Congress unit in Karnataka on Thursday alleged voter ID scam by the state’s ruling BJP and demanded Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s resignation, as well as a probe into the scam by the Chief Justice of the High Court of Karnataka.
In a joint press conference at the KPCC headquarters in Bengaluru, the state’s party in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala, opposition leader Siddaramaiah and Karnataka Congress President D.K. Shivakumar said that they would lodge a criminal complaint regarding the matter.
“The government is stealing the data of voters. The ruling BJP is indulging in election fraud through a private agency. Bommai, in-charge minister, BBMP Special Commissioner Tushar Girinath and the Election Commission are operating as one team to steal voters’ data,” Surjewala stated.
Shivakumar charged that thousands of BJP workers in the state have been roped in to manipulate electoral rolls.
“The BJP workers have been hired on contract basis by a private agency, given identity cards by the authorities to carry out the process of voter ID renewal,” he charged.
In Bengaluru alone, about 17,000 to 18,000 such identity cards are given, he said, adding that the BJP workers are going door to door and mapping the voters.
“They are marking empty houses, studying voters’ political affiliations and coming up with a voters’ list to win elections.”
Article 324, 325, 326 of the Indian Constitution and Section 28 of Representation of People’s Act specify that only the government officers can carry out the task of handling issues related to voters list, Shivakumar said and added that the rules have been violated by ruling BJP and bureaucracy.
Meanwhile, Siddaramaiah claimed that all this is being done on the behest of the Chief Minister.
“He (Bommai) should be arrested. He should resign as he has no moral right to continue as he is at the helm of affairs. This kind of conspiracy, theft never happened by the Chief Minister himself in the history of Karnataka,” he said.
KPCC Campaign Committee Chairman and MLA, M.B. Patil said that initially it was done in Mahadevapura constituency in Bengaluru.
“Now, BJP has taken the exercise in the entire Bengaluru and all 224 Assembly constituencies of the state.”
Shivakumar further alleged that through the fraud ways, the votes of minorities, SC/STs and Other Backward Classes were being taken out of voters list.
“The BJP workers are mapping political inclinations and taking out their names or shifting their names to other wards. Voters from other constituencies are being brought and settled in empty houses to aid BJP candidates.”
He demanded that thousands of BJP workers who were given identity cards by the government should be arrested, and complete data collected should be sieged.
“Who permitted a private entity to act on behalf of election commission and BBMP? How the government orders dated January 29 and August 28 were issued giving authorisation to this private entity?
“Why was an advertisement not ordered to be issued by Bommai who is also in-charge minister, BBMP or the Election Authority before giving the election work to a private party?” Surjewala queried.
“How was a private entity permitted to collect personal voter information like caste, religion, gender, mother tongue, marital status, Aadhaar number, phone number, address, voter id number, email address of voters? Is it not a clear cut theft bridge of privacy and fraud played upon innocent voters?
“Can personal data of voters uploaded by a private entity authorised by the government on its private app digital Samiksha, which supposedly is used by political parties MP, MLA, corporators and aspirants for political usage on payment?” he further questioned.
CM to order probe
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Thursday announced that he will order a comprehensive probe into the alleged voters’ data theft scandal and maintained that the Congress’ demand for him to resign was “ridiculous”.
Reacting to the party’s allegations of stealing voters’ data for political gains, Bommai said that Congress has gone bankrupt with ideas.
“Let the truth come out. I am handing over the case for a comprehensive probe. Right from the first direction of the Election Commission, everything will be probed,” he said.
The Chief Minister said that Election Commission will give responsibility to undertake a sweep programme for local organisations and BBMP.
In turn they will hand over the work to NGOs and this is not the first time that NGOs are given such work. It was also given in during the tenure of Congress in 2018. — IANS