Bengaluru, Nov 17: The Congress on Thursday demanded the resignation and arrest of Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai in connection with a major electoral data theft scandal that has come to light in Bengaluru.
A nonprofit named Chilume Educational & Rural Development Trust was roped in by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to conduct an awareness campaign under the Election Commission’s Systematic Voters' Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) programme.
However, it turned out that the nonprofit went door-to-door to allegedly collect personal details of citizens - caste, education, mother tongue, Aadhaar and so on. This was done using people who were given identity cards saying they were booth-level officers (BLO).
On Wednesday, the BBMP withdrew its consent that was given to the Chilume Trust because it “violated the conditions of the permission.”
“The shocking expose has revealed that those sitting in the citadels of power, including Bommai, are overtly and covertly responsible for theft of voter data, fraud and impersonation through brazen misdemeanors,” AICC general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala told a news conference here.
Surjewala said voter data collected by Chilume was uploaded on a private app called Digital Sameeksha, owned by its sister concern Chilume Enterprises Pvt Ltd. “Voters were made to believe that their information was being given to BLOs as a part of the voter registration drive,” he said.
The Congress also said that one Krishnappa Ravikumar, director at Chilume and DAP Hombale Pvt Ltd, is linked to IT/BT Minister CN Ashwath Narayan, the Malleswaram MLA. Surjewala released pictures showing the minister cutting a cake with Ravikumar.
Apparently, Chilume was first allowed to conduct ‘voter awareness activities’ in the Shivajinagar constituency. Then, the BBMP gave the nonprofit permission to cover all 28 Assembly segments in Bengaluru.
“The sum and substance of this conspiracy is to deny the ordinary voter his right to vote and to tamper electoral list by surreptitious means,” Surjewala said, demanding action against Bommai, under whom the BBMP functions.
The Congress said it wants an investigation under the supervision of the Karnataka High Court Chief Justice.
“Never has such a fraud happened before,” Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah said.
Karnataka Congress president D K Shivakumar said his party investigated this over the past two months. “About 18,000 people, who are (BJP) workers, were given ID cards,” he said. “They even identified vacant houses. Their plan is to get voters from somewhere else enrolled here. Also, they’re removing minority, SC, ST and OBC voters who don’t support them from the electoral rolls,” he claimed.