Over 9,000 genuine voter identity cards were discovered in an apartment in Jalahalli on Tuesday, triggering reactions until late at night, with the BJP even demanding countermanding of polls in the Rajarajeshwarinagar constituency.
At an emergency press meet, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Sanjiv Kumar said 9,746 voter identity cards were found in bundles in flat number 115 at SLV Park View apartments in Jalahalli.
The flat, he said, belongs to Manjula Nanjundmuri, and had been rented out to one Rakesh. “These EPICs belonged to people from the slums. Five laptops and a printer were also found. The EPICs were verified with the mobile app and found to be genuine. Three observers have gone to the spot and there will be an independent inquiry,” Mr. Kumar said.
“There could be a link with the sitting MLA as there were stickers found of the MLA on water cans and in other places,” he added.
“There were two large steel trunks with counterfoil strips resembling acknowledgement slips of Form 6 used for new addition of names on the electoral rolls. These may be around a lakh. These have photographs and a printed number in magenta which is different from the officially available Form 6 which has no printed number. On preliminary verification these 9,746 EPICs are of actual electors and appears to be prima facie genuine. However, the significance of the counterfoils can only be verified after due investigation,” a press release from the CEO’s office said.
The CEO said Rajarajeshwarinagar constituency has 4.71 lakh voters and the new additions in the electoral rolls for the Assembly elections were 44,837. “The growth in electoral rolls of Rajarajeshwarinagar Assembly constituency is 10.3%, while the State average is 6.04%. “All this is being investigated and monitored by the Election Commission,” he said, adding that this was a “serious matter”.
“There is something very wrong and it needs to be investigated. Any type of irregularities will be addressed and there would be fair and free elections. An FIR has been lodged and Central forces are guarding the building,” said Mr. Kumar.
Towards evening, bigwigs from the Opposition parties were spotted near the apartment, including former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda and BJP leader and Union Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda.
Countermand polls: BJP
At a midnight press conference, BJP leaders Ananth Kumar and Prakash Javadekar demanded that the election in the constituency be countermanded immediately.
“There is publicity material of Muniratna, incumbent MLA of the Congress, found in the flat and there is a strong suspicion that he was running a fake voter ID card printing factory. He is a close aide of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and a very influential candidate. The BJP believes there will be no free and fair election in these circumstances. We demand the elections be countermanded, and Muniratna immediately arrested,” said Mr. Ananth Kumar.
The CEO, however, said investigation would be completed in 24 hours and the Election Commission would also be consulted to take a decision on the demand for countermanding the polls to the constituency.
According to sources in the BJP, party workers were tipped off about the cards in the flat and then they barged into it. The party workers then called the police, who then informed the Election Commission authorities.
BJP drama: Congress
The Congress, on the other hand, alleged that the “raid” was conducted by BJP workers and not by the Election Commission or the police. “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 Election on a BJP ticket. Apartment was not raided by police or EC but by BJP workers,” the party tweeted.