- Karnataka top election official said the voter ID cards found are genuine
- BJP and Congress have been blaming each other for the voter IDs
- No sufficient cause to cancel polls in Rajarajeshwari Nagar seat: sources
The 'discovery' has triggered off a bitter back and forth between the Congress and BJP that have been holding media briefings since Tuesday midnight to accuse the other of a role in the racket.
On Wednesday, PM Narendra Modi also waded into the political row. "Why does the Congress need fake voter IDs? What is the Congress trying to do in Karnataka," PM Modi told an election meeting. The Congress responded with sharp attack, accusing BJP leaders of running "a factory of lies".
As both parties headed to the election commission in Delhi, the poll body sent Deputy Election Commissioner Chandrabhushan Kumar to Bengaluru to get a clear picture about the extent of the problem. Election Commission sources told NDTV that prima facie, there did not appear to sufficient cause to cancel elections for the Rajarajeshwari Nagar seat as demanded by the BJP.
Mr Kumar, Karnataka's Chief Electoral Officer told reporters later in the evening that there was no evidence that any of the voter ID cards were "bogus or concocted". If someone is saying this, it is wrong, he said, a remark seen to contradict the BJP's initial allegation.
The election official said they were also initially told that the apartment was used to illegally access the election commission database and create fake ID cards. This was a much more serious concern but is not true, he reiterated.
Mr Kumar said the ID cards, stacks of lists and forms found from the apartment suggested an elaborate survey had been carried out in the constituency to identify vulnerable people. "This is a systematic case of surveying electors and collecting their information. But this is also very serious, the number is very large and needs to completely investigated," he said.
Asked if the entire exercise had been carried out to bribe voters, Mr Singh said this was definitely an inference that one could reach. "Because why else would someone collect this big a number of... things... It is serious but it is of different kind than what was being projected earlier," he said.
Mr Kumar did not get into the findings of the authorities about the owner and occupant of the apartment. "This needs to be investigated," he said.
The BJP had initially alleged the occupant was linked to the Congress candidate.
The apartment under scrutiny belongs to Manjula Nanjamari and her son Sridhar; both say they knew nothing about what was happening inside.
The Congress says Manjula Nanjamari is a former BJP corporator, but the BJP denies any links with her. Manjula and her son Sridhar confirmed to NDTV that Manjula had been a BJP corporator and that they were still very much BJP supporters although not as active as earlier.
The BJP says it first went to the flat on Tuesday evening after being tipped off by Rakesh. Four hours later, the police and election officials went in and seized five computers, a printer and tens of thousands of voter list forms, says Sridhar.
Get the latest election news, live updates and election schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on ndtv.com/elections. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for updates from each of the 543 parliamentary seats for the 2019 Indian general elections. Election results will be out on May 23.