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Voter ID Row: Election in Bengaluru's RR Nagar Constituency Deferred to May 28, Counting on May 31

The ECI said that it will make a detailed list of voters whose voter ID cards were collected illegally and ensure distribution of fresh cards to them seven days before date of polls.

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Updated:May 11, 2018, 7:39 PM IST
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Voter ID Row: Election in Bengaluru's RR Nagar Constituency Deferred to May 28, Counting on May 31
Close to 10,000 voter IDs and other documents were recovered from a flat on Tuesday night. (Image: News18)
Bengaluru: The election in Bengaluru’s Raja Rajeshwari Nagar assembly constituency has been deferred after the discovery of a huge cache of voter ID cards and other poll related documents from a flat here on Tuesday.

The election commission, in a notice, said that voting for the constituency will now be held on May 28 and the counting of votes will take place on May 31. The announcement was made just a day before the rest of the state chooses its next government.

The commission said that ever since the dates were announced, there had been several complaints regarding the distribution of cash and gift items in the constituency. Two instances, however, stood out. First, the seizure of a truck carrying goods worth Rs 95 lakh on May 6 and then the seizure of 9,896 voter ID cards or electors photo identity cards (EPIC) on Tuesday.

It said that after examining the evidence, it became clear that the collection of voter ID cards was for large-scale inducement of voters. "The very act of illegal collection of thousands of voter ID cards from members of a vulnerable community seem to be a deliberate attempt to make large-scale voters captive to either make them vote with inducement or to coerce them to not vote at all,” it said.

"Every voter has freedom to cast his vote in a free and fair manner without facing any inducement. In this particular instance, free exercise of electoral rights has been compromised at a large-scale in a systemic manner," the EC added.

Apart from 9,896 voter ID cards, 6,342 voter application acknowledgement receipt with BBMP seals and another 20,700 acknowledgement receipts without BBMP seals were also found. The voter ID cards found were all genuine, the EC said

Explaining the modus operandi, Karnataka’s CEO Sanjiv Kumar said that a survey of each household was carried out in the constituency with photographs of voters and their houses. Details like their names, cases and even requirements like widow pension card, old age pension card and ration card were acquired, he said.

The discovery from the flat just a few days before the election had sparked off a war of words between the Congress and BJP, with each claiming the flat belonged to a woman associated with the rival party.

Police had on Thursday registered an FIR against 14 people, including sitting Congress MLA Munirathna. Munirathna, however, refuted the allegation. "I have built many houses under Rajiv Awas Yojana. After giving so many facilities in the constituency, why did I or my party require to collect the voter ID?" he asked.

The ECI said that the chief and deputy electoral officers of Karnataka and the returning officer of RR Nagar constituency will make a detailed list of voters whose EPIC cards were collected illegally and ensure distribution of fresh cards to them seven days before date of polls.

It also said that it will send a special team to monitor the expenses and conduct polling in the constituency. The police commissioner of Bengaluru has been asked to take strict action against the culprits.

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| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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