Siddanagoudar and Nimbannavar seek probe by the Election Commission
The Janata Dal (Secular) and Karnataka Janata Paksha candidates who contested the Assembly elections from the Kalghatagi constituency, P.C. Siddanagoudar and C.M. Nimbannavar respectively, have expressed fears that electronic voting machines (EVMs) could have been tampered with.
They have alleged that Election Commission authorities failed to prevent the use of money power by Santosh Lad of the Congress, who won the election.
Mr. Lad won by a huge margin of 45,661 votes. While Mr. Lad polled 76,802 votes, his nearest rival, Mr. Nimbannavar, polled 31,141 votes and Mr. Siddanagoudar got 12,300 votes.
Addressing a joint press conference along with Mr. Nimbannavar here on Friday, Mr. Siddanagoudar expressed fears that the EVMs could have been tampered with.
Mr. Siddanagoudar released a list of polling booths, including Mishrikoti, Rangapur, Bisaralli, Mavinakoppa and Lalagatti, where he secured less than 10 votes. In two booths he secured one and two votes.
“I have been in politics for long and personally know the voters in many villages. Even in villages where I have staunch followers, I have secured less than 10 votes, which is startling,” he said.
“I kept myself aloof after securing the third place. However, people started calling up saying that they and their family members had voted for me. In villages where my close followers live in big joint families although all of them had voted for me, the results showed that I got single digit votes. I feel something has gone wrong and that’s why I urge the Election Commission for a thorough inquiry,” he said.
Mr. Siddanagoudar displayed newspaper articles about how the EVMs could be tampered with. “I am not an expert on the issue. But I would urge for a thorough inquiry,” he said.
Mr. Nimbannavar alleged that there were large-scale malpractices in the constituency during canvassing and Mr. Lad had distributed money in several villages. “I and my followers called up officials deputed to check violation of the model code of conduct several times. But there response was very poor. Every time we were told that no violation was found although we gave the authorities the exact details about the distribution of money. Fed up by their apathy, we finally stopped complaining,” he said.
He said after the previous elections, he had moved the court seeking justice for election malpractices. Although the court found the case genuine, the verdict was delayed. “I am not going to take legal recourse as it has not delivered justice to me,” he said.
Mr. Nimbannavar, who became emotional while elaborating on the work he did in his constituency in the last five years said: “It is hard to believe that the Congress candidate who failed to even ask a single question about his constituency in the Assembly when he was an MLA, who remained inaccessible to the people for long and who was asked to wind up his campaign midway because of people’s opposition, gets elected and that too by a margin of over 45,000 votes. Something has definitely gone wrong and it needs to be probed.”
Mr. Nimbannavar said people’s movement was the only option left for him to fight against money power in politics.