The Election Commission in the wee hours of Wednesday filed a First Information Report (FIR) over the recovery of thousands of voter ID cards at an apartment in Bengaluru just days ahead of polling in Karnataka Assembly elections. The FIR filed by EC refers to the recovery of counterfoils and 9,746 voters ID cards.
"An FIR is being registered after nearly 9,746 voter cards were found in a flat in Rajarajeshwari Nagar constituency along with around one lakh counterfoils resembling acknowledgement slips used for addition of names into electoral rolls were found," the state's Chief Electoral Officer Sanjiv Kumar told reporters in Bengaluru on late Tuesday night.
On preliminary verification, the voter cards were found to be genuine, while the counterfoils were to be verified through investigation, Kumar said. Five laptops and one printer were also found in the apartment, he added. "Further investigation will be conducted into the matter and will be closely monitored by the EC," he said.
Three observers from the poll panel were visiting the flat in the Rajarajeshwari Nagar constituency, which has a total of 4,35,439 voters, Kumar said.
Along with Kumar, the District Election Officer and the city's civic body Commissioner M Maheshwar Rao, city Police Commissioner T Suneel Kumar had visited the location where the voter cards were found.
Hitting out at the ruling Congress over the issue, Union Minister Sadanand Gowda had on Tuesday said that democracy has been attacked in the state's capital. "The Democracy being attacked in Bengaluru. I am shocked at the incident. More than 20000 Voter ID cards found at a private apartment. I visited the place personally. This mockery at the behest of @INCIndia Rajarajeshwari Nagara Candidate Munirathna Naidu #congresscheatsdemocracy," Gowda tweeted.
"Mr Election Commissioner, how can 20000 + voter card can be found in private place. 5 laptops, printer, thousands of Form 6 Acknowledgement found in trunks. Someone is riding on democracy. Election to Rajarajeshwari Nagar Constituency should be withheld immediately," he added.
However, the Congress party blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party, with party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala saying that the flat where the voter IDs were found belonged to a BJP leader.
"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 (Bengaluru civic body) elections on a BJP ticket. Apartment was raided not by police or EC but by BJP workers," Surjewala alleged at a press conference on the early hours of Wednesday.
The BJP, meanwhile, urged the poll panel to countermand the May 12 Assembly poll in the constituency, terming it a conspiracy by the ruling Congress to rig the election.
"The BJP demands countermanding of elections in Rajarajeshwari Nagar in light of latest revelations of tens of thousands of fake voter IDs and empty packets of hard currency. This is Congress conspiracy to rig election in the face of their imminent defeat," tweeted Union Human Resource Development Minister and the party's in-charge for state polls Prakash Javadekar.
(With IANS inputs)