She has also violated rule against use of red beacon lights on vehicles, says Commission

After watching a CD, the Election Commissionon on Wednesday accused BSP supremo Mayawati of snatching back money from a poll official who was checking the cash found in her possession at the PWD helipad in Gulbarga on April 27 when she went there for Karnataka poll campaigning.

The EC said its officials performed their duty professionally and with the utmost courtesy and impartiality. But Ms. Mayawati did not allow them to count the money found in her possession and ‘snatched’ it. “It is for this reason that the checking team had to repeat the checking.” Also, “when Ms. Mayawati gave the explanation that only Rs. 50,000 out of Rs 1,00,000 found in her possession belonged to her, no seizure of the cash was done by the checking team … ,” the EC said. The Commission was replying, through its April 30 letter, to BSP general secretary and Rajya Sabha member Satish Chandra Mishra, who had complained against the officials.

Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath and Election Commissioners H.S. Brahma and S.N.A. Zaidi said it was however “quite surprising that the money changed hands and was not found in her [Ms. Mayawati’s] bag when the checking was repeated after a short drive of the 15 minutes from the helipad.”

The Commission expressed concern that the instruction of not using red beacon lights on vehicles used by campaigners was also violated by her. The checking was done as per the EC’s standing instructions which were in consonance with the Supreme Court order.

According to these instructions, during checking, if any cash exceeding Rs.50,000 was found in a vehicle carrying a candidate, his agent, or a party worker, such cash shall be seized. The whole event of checking and seizure was to be videographed.

Mayawati’s charge

On Ms. Mayawati’s charge that why Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s baggage was not checked by the EC team, the letter said that as per the Standard Operating Procedure issued by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, all passengers excepting those who were specified in the exempted category, should be subjected to frisking and checking of baggage even at remote/uncontrolled airports.

The letter said the instruction for checking was given following allegations of large-scale use of money power in the polls. During the Commission’s visit to Karnataka on March 1 and April 8, all parties, including the BSP, had raised the issue of possibility of misuse of money power and requested the EC to take strict prevention measures.

The checks had resulted in the seizure of Rs.13.08 crore in cash in Karnataka.

Justifying its drive, the Commission said leaders of all parties were being regularly checked in Karnataka. They include Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar (BJP), Union Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge (Congress), former Chief Ministers Dharam Singh (Congress) and B.S. Yeddyurappa (KJP), former Ministers Shoba Karandlaje and B. Sriramulu and BJP MP Anant Kumar.

“It is the EC’s opinion that senior leaders should lead by example by subjecting themselves to checks. ”

On the alleged press statement of Karnataka Chief Electoral Officer, the EC said he had only reacted to a question asked by journalists about the incident. “The CEO had no mala fide intention as alleged by you and was only doing his duty. The Commission would once again request you [the BSP] to help in the efforts to contain the malaise of misuse of money power by co-operating with the checking teams,” the letter to Mr. Chandra said.

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