The Karnataka Congress on Thursday charged the prime minister with “corrupt electoral practices” against an “awareness-raising programme”, a charge flatly rejected by Basavaraj Bommai, who said the opposition party was bankrupt with ideas.
The CM claimed that it was willing to face an investigation and also to be investigated, the Congress allegation that a private company involved in a voter poll in the city collected details including individuals’ caste and their Aadhaar .
As the matter erupted into a political row, the city government announced it would terminate permission for the NGO involved in the program and authorities said action would be taken against it if it was found to be involved in violations.
National Congress General Secretary and Karnataka leader Randeep Surjewala demanded Bommai’s resignation claiming that he is directly responsible for the corrupt electoral practice by appointing a private entity, Chilume Educational and Rural Development Institute, to house to collect information about voters on a door-to-door basis.
Bommai rejected Congress’ claim, saying it had bankrupt ideas leading it to make baseless allegations without any evidence.
He said he was ready to have the matter investigated.
“What I feel is that the Congress has bankrupt ideas. It is a matter between the Election Commission of India, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), and the NGO,” Bommai said.
He added that if the NGO has abused its position, it will be questioned and action taken.
“What’s the evidence that what private information was given to whom? There’s nothing on paper. It’s an unfounded claim. I’m really amazed at the way Congress is bankrupt with ideas…there’s no evidence at all” added Bombai.
He said he was ready for an investigation.
“Let the investigation be done and the truth come out. We will not shy away from any investigation. I ask the BBMP Commissioner to file a case,” the CM said.
Earlier in the day, Surjewala said that in August, the BBMP authorized a private company to conduct a door-to-door survey of voters ‘at no cost’ and that it collected information on their gender, native language and collected voter ID and Aadhaar -details. .
“Chilume Educational and Rural Development Institute applied for permission to carry out a voter awareness campaign from the Election Commission. First, the permission was given for the Mahadevapura Assembly constituency and then extended to all 28 constituencies of Bengaluru, see an August 20 government order ., 2022,” the AICC’s general secretary claimed at a press conference.
Further, Chilume is associated and owned by common owners and directors of two other entities, including Chilume Enterprises Private Limited, he said.
“Chilume Enterprises claims to be an ‘Election Management Company’ and also works for ‘EVM preparation etc for political parties’. This is unique. I have never heard this before,” said Surjewala.
He claimed that “the prime minister was the conduit of the electoral fraud,” he said, “there must be an FIR against Basavaraj Bommai and he must be arrested.” The cache of data was not fed into the government’s Garuda application, but into a private company’s Digital Sameeksha application, Surjewala said.
The company also appointed hundreds of Booth Level Officers (BLO), who technically should be government designees, Surjewala said, adding that these BLOs were also issued ID cards similar to those of government employees.
The general secretary of the AICC also sought to know how a private entity was allowed to collect personal voter information such as caste, religion, age, gender, mother tongue, marital status, Aadhaar number, telephone number, address, voter ID number and email address .
Can voters’ personal data be uploaded by a private entity to its private app, which is supposedly used by political parties, MPs, MLAs, councilors and aspirants for political use for a fee, he wondered.
“The Sarkar 40 percent committee (Cong-barb against BJP ruling on corruption) has now also corrupted the election process. Shocking exposure has revealed that those who sit in the citadels of power, including the prime minister, are openly and covertly responsible for voter data theft, fraud and impersonation through brutal misdeeds,” Surjewala claimed.
Former CM Siddaramaiah and Head of State Congress DK Shivakumar lodged a complaint with Bengaluru Police Commissioner C Pratap Reddy over the matter.
Meanwhile, former chief minister and JD(S) second-in-command HD Kumaraswamy said that the BJP has done what the Congress has done in the past and there was no difference in the behavior of the two political parties.
As the issue grew into a major controversy, the BBMP terminated the permission given to Chilume.
In a statement, the municipal department said that in view of the Special Summary Revision-2023 activities, permission had been granted to the Chilume Educational Cultural and Rural Development Trust to conduct the door-to-door visit to raise awareness of the general public apply for online applications through mobile app for Voter Helpline related to Voter ID, in collaboration with BLOs, Voter Registration Officers and Assistant Voter Registration Officers of District Election Officer, Bengaluru.
“However, the aforementioned trust has violated the terms of the consent. Therefore, the consent has been revoked with immediate effect. Therefore, we hereby appeal to the general public not to share their voter ID data with the representatives of the trust,” read the statement.
Manoj Kumar Meena, the state’s Chief Electoral Officer, clarified that the BBMP Chief Commissioner, who is the district election officer, has not given permission to carry out any ‘analysis’.
The municipal authority canceled the permission granted to Chilume to conduct an awareness campaign shortly after receiving the complaint against the company. found it.
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