Voting put off in Bengaluru seat over voter cards case

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Bengaluru, May 12 (IANS) The Election Commission (EC) on Friday postponed polling in Bengaluru’s Rajarajeshwari (RR) Nagar assembly segment to May 28 from Saturday following recovery of nearly 10,000 voters ID cards from a flat in the constituency.

“To maintain the sanctity of election process, the EC has ordered that polls in this (RR Nagar) constituency be deferred to May 28,” the Commission said in a statement here.

The counting of votes in the constituency will now take place on May 31.

An FIR was filed with the police after the poll panel officials on May 8 found 9,564 voter cards, along with nearly a lakh counterfoils that resembled acknowledgement slips, stacked in a flat in the constituency.

A second FIR was filed by the police on Thursday, naming Congress candidate and outgoing legislator from the same constituency, N. Munirathna Naidu, as one of the accused.

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The Commission has, however, maintained that the voter cards were genuine, and that the counterfoils were under investigation.

“This was clearly an attempt to induce voters in a systematic and planned manner and vitiate the process of election…,” the poll panel noted in the statement.

The EC also said it was impossible to distribute the collected voter cards, which were seized, to the rightful card holders with less than 24 hours left for the polling.

“The Commission considers it imperative to defer the poll for the time being so that the vitiating effect of the distribution of money and gift items to the electors of the constituency loses its intensity and the seized voter cards can be returned to voters,” it added.

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The poll panel officials also said the voter cards would be given back to the card holders a week before the revised polling date, May 28.

“The city police will ensure strict action against the culprits.”

After EC’s decision to defer polling in the constituency, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alleged that the ruling Congress was caught “rigging” the election by the Commission.

“Postponement of RR Nagar Assembly poll has exposed Congress in Karnataka as it is caught red hand in rigging the election there. Kudos to EC for saving democracy,” tweeted Union Human Resource Development Minister and BJP’s Karnataka in-charge Prakash Javadekar.

The Congress has been blaming the BJP, calling the incident a conspiracy by the party in an apartment that allegedly belonged to a former BJP Corporator.

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Voting in Karnataka will be held on Saturday in 222 of the state’s 224 constituencies between 7 a.m and 6 p.m. The election in Jayanagar segment of south Bengaluru was countermanded after the death of BJP contestant B.N. Vijaya Kumar on May 4.

–IANS

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