Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Sunday said he has directed officials to probe into the alleged voter data theft scandal since 2013, when the Congress party was in power in the state.
Addressing reporters here, he said, “I have directed the officials concerned to probe the case from 2013. They will ascertain when for the first time the contract to conduct such door-to-door survey was assigned to the Chilume Educational Cultural and Rural Development Institute (‘Chilume Trust’) and what was the content of the order. Our objective is to bring out all the facts.”
This comes a day after the Congress had lodged a complaint with Chief Electoral Officer Manoj Kumar Meena alleging that electoral fraud, malpractice, and manipulation of voters’ list was done by the CM, Higher Education Minister C N Ashwath Narayan, the District election officer and chief commissioner of the BBMP, Tushar Girinath and the Directors of Chilume Trust.
According to Bommai, the Congress had roped in the same non-government organisation when it was in power from 2013 to 2018. He also charged that the Congress’ contract was rife with violations and illegalities compared to the one entered into by the BJP government.
The Congress in Karnataka has alleged that the Chilume Educational Cultural and Rural Development Institute (‘Chilume Trust’) hired many private people who were given fake identity cards impersonating Booth Level Officers (BLOs) of BBMP.
The opposition party further alleged that the private trust, which was assigned by the Bengaluru civic body to spread awareness among voters, collected details of the voters such as name, mother tongue, gender, religion, caste, voter ID number and the Aadhaar number.
“In our order we had granted permission to create awareness (among voters). We had included the clause that the NGO should not be associated with any political party, whereas in their order (during the Congress tenure) they had given permission to conduct survey of voters only.
However, the order given by the Congress asked the NGO for revision of electoral roll, which is done by the ECI, the CM claimed.
“This is an unpardonable crime of assigning the duty of the Election Commission (to a private entity). During the Congress regime, the Tehsildar himself told the NGO to appoint the Booth Level Officers (BLOs), which is a misuse beyond limits,” Bommai said.
On the Congress’ charge that over 27 lakh voters were deleted from the electoral roll, Bommai said the addition and deletion in the voters’ list is the job of the ECI and not the government. He termed the Congress party’s allegations as ‘politically motivated.’ Responding to a query, Bommai said the Congress MLAs too had hired agencies for carrying out survey.
“Political parties too hired such agencies and conducted surveys.. See the difference between the order issued by us and them (Congress). They had done the job of the election commission, which is an offence,” he underlined.
The BJP leader claimed that the ECI for the first time used artificial intelligence to erase double entries.
Bommai welcomed the complaint lodged by the Congress with the ECI, saying the truth will come out after the investigation and justice will prevail.
Meanwhile, the police probing the case arrested two people belonging to the Chilume Trust. The police had also raided their offices and seized some electronic gadgets and documents.