This Article is From Nov 17, 2022

"Whats The Proof?": Karnataka Chief Minister Slams Electoral Fraud Charge

Besides names and addresses, the NGO allegedly took voter details such as religion, caste, gender and mother-tongue.

The Congress demanded Mr Bommai's resignation. (File)


A non-profit drafted by the Karnataka government for an awareness campaign allegedly went door-to-door collecting voters' data under false pretenses, in the latest scandal to slam the Basavaraj Bommai-led BJP government months before elections.

The NGO "Chilume Educational and Cultural Institute" was allowed by Bengaluru's civic body BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) to carry out a voter rights awareness campaign. But in a massive breach of data, the NGO's case workers allegedly posed as booth level election officers and collected basic data from people in Bengaluru. The data is significant in a state that votes in less than six months.

Besides names and addresses, the NGO allegedly took voter details such as religion, caste, gender and mother-tongue. 

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, bruised by the "40 per cent" bribe for contracts allegation, is facing fresh opposition attacks because he is in charge of the Bengaluru civic body. He denied any electoral fraud and said he is ready for a probe.

"If some people in that NGO have misused that position that will be inquired into and action will be taken against them. That is not an issue at all. But what is the proof? Private information was given to whom? Nothing is on paper, it is a baseless allegation and I'm astonished that the Congress is so bankrupt of ideas," Mr Bommai said. 

"This is just a baseless allegation, there is no proof at all, let there be an inquiry, let there be investigation. We are not shying away from it."

The Chief Minister said he had asked the municipal commissioner to file a case.

Karnataka's main opposition Congress has alleged that the NGO can now sell the data to either a potential candidate or a party.

The Congress demanded Mr Bommai's resignation, calling him directly responsible for corrupt electoral practices by assigning a private entity to collect door-to-door voter information.

Congress general secretary and the party's Karnataka in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala said the Chief Minister was the "conduit of the electoral fraud".

"There has to be an FIR against Basavaraj Bommai and he should be arrested," Mr Surjewala told reporters.

The Congress leader alleged that the data gathered by the NGO was not fed into the Garuda application of the government but into a private firm's app called "Digital Sameeksha", which gathers information and generates insights.

The opposition party says the private firm appointed hundreds of Booth Level Officers, though technically, they should be appointed by the government. Also, these personnel were given I-cards resembling those of government staff, Mr Surjewala said.

"We want to know who permitted a private entity to conduct the survey on behalf of the BBMP? Who recommended the government to give such a contract to a private entity and why were the antecedents of the contractor not checked?" the Congress leader said.