New Delhi / Bengaluru: The Congress asked the Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday to conduct an inquiry into charges of bribing voters in Karnataka in the run-up to the state Assembly polls and ensure fairness in the electoral process.
A delegation of Congress leaders met EC officials and demanded a thorough investigation into charges that seek to “decimate the electoral process” and “hijack democracy” by offering bribes.
Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala also gave a representation to the EC against Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, state BJP chief Nalin Kumar Katil and the saffron party’s MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi for allegedly offering bribes for votes in the upcoming Assembly polls.
He said on January 22, former Karnataka minister Jarkiholi announced in Belagavi that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would pay every voter in the upcoming state election.
Passed well reasoned order recognising CM Eknath Shinde-led faction as real Shiv Sena: EC tells SC
Flawed reports by some agencies causes more damage to credibility of poll management bodies: CEC Kumar
Security heightened around Indian High Commission in London over protest by British Sikh groups
Surjewala said the announcement was caught on camera and the Congress presented the video footage to the EC as evidence.
“This is part of a concerted conspiracy hatched at the highest levels in the BJP with the obvious sanction and blessings of the Chief Minister and Legislature Party leader of the BJP, Basavaraj Bommai, the national president of the BJP JP Nadda and the state BJP president Nalin Kumar Katil,” Surjewala said in his memorandum.
He alleged that there is a whole ring of people behind this “concerted design to bribe voters”.
“This is a blatant and brazen attempt to hijack democracy and amounts to obvious criminal offences,” the Congress leader said.
“The commission is requested to conduct an immediate and expeditious inquiry into the sinister conspiracy being hatched by the BJP government of Karnataka and the central leadership of the BJP to decimate the electoral process and hijack democracy by offering bribes,” he added.
Surjewala called for the registration of an FIR against the four people named above and any other individual found to be involved in offering bribes to the voters in the southern state.
“Issue a notice for disqualification of Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, Nalin Katil and Ramesh Jarkiholi as members of the legislative assembly and JP Nadda and take immediate measures to ensure the fairness, integrity and independence of the electoral process in the upcoming Assembly election,” he said, while calling for appointing special observers to prevent bribery.
“We urge the commission to treat this matter with the urgency it deserves and take all necessary steps to ensure that the integrity of the upcoming state election is maintained,” the Congress leader said.
The Karnataka Assembly polls are due in a few months.