R Guruprasad from Bengaluru
With defeat looking imminent, Congress party in Karnataka has resorted to cheap tactics, opined BJP leaders. The Congress party"s controversial MLA from Rajarajeshwari constituency N. Munirathna (his name had earlier figured in a death of a girl due to a wall collapse and the wall was built with substandard materials by Munirathna, and he has case pending where he illegally kept official BBMP files at his residence) is now alleged to have masterminded an EPIC racket.
On May 8, BJP party workers along with election officials raided a three bedroom flat in Bengaluru and recovered voter identity cards. These voter cards had been collected by the Congress party workers to woo the voters by giving them cash and other electronic gadgets to cast their votes in favour of the Congress party candidate. Though the Congress goons tried to attack the BJP workers, the party leaders didn"t take a back foot.
Rakesh, BJP party worker and a whistle blower to the entire scam received a life threat from the followers of MLA Munirathna. Addressing journalists at BJP media centre, Rakesh said it took 10 days to bring the scam to light. "We were doing door to door canvas and realised that apartment CCTV was removed a month back and street lights too were taken away. We sensed something fishy and kept an eye for the last 10 days and finally, on May 8 we thronged the flat situated on 2nd floor," said Rakesh.
The Chief Electoral Officer Sanjiv Kumar visited the house on the night of May 8 and his team found 9,746 EPIC cards kept neatly in small bundles wrapped in paper with some names and phones on the paper. It is alleged that some more cards were there which were allegedly taken away by some of the occupants. There were five laptops and one printer found in the house. There were two large steel trunks with counterfoils strips resembling acknowledgement slips of form 6 used for new addition of names onto the electoral rolls. These may be numbering around a lakh. These rolls had photographs and a printed number in magenta colour which is different than the officially available Form 6 which has no printed number.
CEO Sanjiv Kumar said that as per the preliminary verification, the 9,746 EPIC cards were of actual electors and appeared to be prima facie genuine. However, the significance of the counterfoils was yet to be verified. Jalahalli falls under Raja Rajeshwari Nagar constituency where there are 4,35,439 electors. FIR has been registered and further investigations are on.
The modus operandi is to book the voters in advance through an agent and issue them with a coupon. The voters then have to produce the coupon to the concerned a day before the voting and collect either cash or the electronic gadgets. BJP leaders alleged that if a house had around 15 voters, they were assured of a refrigerator along with the cash. The Congress party candidate was behind the entire incident.