New Delhi: The Congress on Wednesday petitioned the Election Commission, demanding a detailed investigation into what it described as a “voter information theft fraud” in Karnataka under Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai.
The party alleged that 27 lakh names had been deleted and 11 lakh voters added in the voters list, especially in Bengaluru, with “political patronage”.
A delegation led by AICC general secretary in-charge of the party’s affairs in Karnataka Randeep Surjewala and KPCC chief D K Shivakumar met the Chief Election Commissioner and other election commissoners and handed over a memorandum.
Surjewala later told reporters that the EC gave them a patient hearing for over an hour and assured of strict action against those behind the voter information theft.
“The EC has taken note of all complaints and assured us that it will carry out a detailed investigation…and anyone found guilty in the scam will be dealt with sternly…,” he told reporters after the meeting.
Surjewala said a deputy election commissioner has already been sent to Karnataka to probe the issue and the EC has lodged an FIR.
The EC has told the Congress leaders that action against some officials has been taken and more action is being initiated, he claimed.
“We are confident that this conspiracy to steal voter data of Karnataka people would be investigated thoroughly by the EC and stern steps taken to book the guilty,” he said.
Surjewala said the delegation brought to the notice of the CEC and other ECs that a private company had taken voter data by impersonating as government employees.
“Employees of a private company are posing as booth level officers of EC and this proves that a data theft has taken place. This amounts to criminal conspiracy. As many as 27 lakh voters have been deleted and 11 lakh voters added in the voters list. Constituencies have been targeted to add votes in order to affect the election outcomes.
“The EC has assured to clean the voter lists and will not allow any deletion or addition of voters and has already lodged an FIR,” the Congress leader said.
Karnataka goes to polls later next year and the Congress is seeking to wrest power back from the BJP.
“Massive addition and deletion in voter list in Bengaluru and Karnataka indicate rigging and fraud. This smacks of an apparent and serious fraud being played out under political patronage,” it alleged.
The Congress said the “abnormally high number of additions and deletions” reflects that almost all constituencies of Bengaluru and certain constituencies outside the state capital were targeted.
“It goes without saying that this can only be done by and at the behest of the ruling party, i.e. the BJP. This is a blatant electoral fraud on democracy itself,” the party alleged.
It termed it to be a case of “identity theft, theft of private user data, dishonest misappropriation of property, concealment and misuse of stolen property, criminal breach of trust and criminal conspiracy”.
“This is also a brazen fraud on our democratic process as votes are being added and subtracted to achieve a political outcome in favour of the ruling party,” it said.
“We request an urgent investigation to be initiated by this commission…The ECI must also initiate criminal law and ensure the registeration of an FIR against Shri Basavaraj Bommai, officials and employees of the BBMP and the state government involved in the scam and the officials of the private entities and NGOs who have committed the fraud under political patronage,” the memorandum said.