Battleground Karnataka: Congress, BJP trade barbs over fake voter ID racket

With only 24 hours left for the Karnataka assembly polls campaign to end on Thursday, principal rivals Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress accused each other of trying to rig the elections.

The latest in BJP and Congress’ war of words started a little before Tuesday midnight when BJP leader D Sadananda Gowda claimed he found thousands of “fake” voter identity cards at a flat in Rajarajeshwari assembly constituency. The BJP demanded the election to the seat be countermanded. The Election Commission ordered an investigation.

While Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said the racket was at the behest of the sitting Congress legislator, Congress spokesman Rajdeep Singh Surjewala said the flat owner Manjula Nanjamari and Rakesh, the ‘whistleblower’, had BJP connections and both had contested Bengaluru Municipal Corporation elections on BJP tickets. The drama spilled on to Wednesday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi raking up the incident in his speeches. He blamed the Congress of trying to rig the elections as it was afraid of losing.

Modi said the Congress leadership of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi should tell the people of Karnataka that they are out on bail in a corruption case, while BJP’s chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa has been exonerated by the courts. At a public rally, Congress President Rahul Gandhi alleged that 90 per cent of the money deposited in banks was going into the hands of 15 rich industrialists. “...they get all money. The small and middle-sized factories do not get money,” Gandhi said at an interaction with women employees of garment industry in Bengaluru.

The Congress president spoke of how jeweller Nirav Modi and mining baron Reddy brothers have looted public money. He said that money could have helped set up small and middle-sized factories and given jobs to people. “The Congress is against the present form of Aadhaar because it is creating problems for people,” Gandhi also said.

At a rally in Bangarpet, Modi picked on Rahul Gandhi’s statement that he would be prime minister in 2019 if the Congress emerged the largest party. Modi said the country will never accept such an “immature” leader, and the Congress chief had become arrogant and had no confidence in his alliance partners, several of whom have over 40-years of experience.

In separate raids, police and Election Commission officials seized money being distributed to voters by the BJP as well as Congress workers.

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