Janata Dal Secular leader HD Kumaraswamy today took exception to the Election Commission asking the Supreme Court to defer the bypolls to 15 assembly constituencies in Karnataka, terming it as yet another indication that the constitutional body has become a "puppet" of the BJP-ruled central government.
The election body had sought the Supreme Court's consent to defer the bypolls to the assembly constituencies, originally scheduled for October 21, until it takes a decision on 17 disqualified MLAs who are seeking interim relief. The top court agreed to its request.
"The Supreme Court's judgment came as a surprise to everyone. The Election Commission is a puppet of the central government. The EC is not working properly because it is being illegally run by the centre," news agency ANI quoted Mr Kumaraswamy as saying.
The former Chief Minister claimed that the Election Commission had no right to intervene in a legal dispute between the MLAs and former Karnataka assembly speaker KR Ramesh Kumar. "Who has influenced the Election Commission to interfere? Going by this development, anyone can see that the Election Commission is being run by the centre," he alleged.
KR Ramesh Kumar had disqualified 17 rebel MLAs - 13 of the Congress, three of the Janata Dal Secular and one Independent - after they switched allegiance to the BJP this July, leading to the collapse of the HD Kumaraswamy government in Karnataka. Following this, the disqualified lawmakers moved the Supreme Court against the Speaker's decision.
Janata Dal Secular chief HD Deve Gowda also levelled a similar accusation against the poll body. "I do not know what made the Election Commission go to the Supreme Court and seek deferment of the bypolls. This is the first time I have come across such a situation in my life. I cannot say anything more. I do not know whether all these institutions are going to function in a free-and-fair manner," ANI quoted Mr Gowda as saying.
Opposition parties have clashed with the Election Commission on several occasions in the past, mostly over the latter's insistence on using electronic voting machines in elections.
(With inputs from ANI)
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