The month-long high-intensity campaigning for the Lok Sabha election saw a total of 178 complaints being registered as violations of the model code of conduct (MCC). However, the Election Commission closed more than three-fourths of the cases after finding them to be false or no evidence.
Out of the 178 complaints registered between March 13 and April 17, a total of 107 or 60 per cent of the complaints pertain to political parties, particularly, the two major parties — the BJP and the Congress — with 104 complaints and eight FIRs registered against them. Other cases include cash seizures, sale or display of posters of candidates, alleged sexual harassment of a corporator at Kodigere, two cases of alleged distribution of cash by BJP workers, one each against BJP leader J. Krishna Palemar and RSS leader Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat for luring voters.
Congress candidate B. Janardhana Poojary has a case filed against him at Mangalore North Station for a press note promising to reduce self-assessment taxes in Mangalore; while, BJP candidate Nalin Kumar Kateel is named along with leaders H.N. Ananth Kumar for conducting a programme at National Institute of Technology-Karnataka, Surathkal, without prior permission.
While the FIRs will be pursued by the police as a criminal complaint and file necessary report to the courts, the 17 cases pending will be taken up by the district administration.
Sources said most of the pending cases will be closed — after perusal of replies by the candidates — and only “one or two may” be sent to the Election Commission for further action.
“We have to only send a report on the replies received. The verdict and quantum of punishment (if any) is left to the Election Commission,” said an official.
A majority of the complaints — more than 85 per cent of them — relate to the offences under the Model Code of Conduct or the Representation of the People Act. Others include distribution of cash/sarees (around seven per cent), distribution of liquor (around five per cent), while Karnataka Prevention of Disfigurement Act, that deals with illegal display of banners or posters and misuse of vehicles by candidates form a negligible minority.Constituency
Not surprisingly, Mangalore South constituency, which saw the most campaigning activity recorded the most complaints: 41 complaints translating to three FIRs.
Belthangady and Moodbidri saw the least complaints with just eight and nine complaints recorded during the one-month preceding the elections.