`It is acting at the behest of the UPA to destabilise the coalition Government'
Defends stay of party leaders in Chamundeshwari `Prohibitory orders aimed at creating fear in people'
MYSORE: The former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) president H.D. Deve Gowda has accused the Election Commission of haunting Chief Minister H.D. Kumraswamy at the behest of the United Progressive Alliance Government, which according to him is keen on destabilising the State Government.
He defended the "overstaying" of leaders of political parties in the Chamundeshwari Assembly constituency despite a direction from the Election Commission (EC) in this regard.
When contacted to elicit his reaction on the Chief Minister's stay in a farmhouse that falls under the Chamundeshwari constituency, Mr. Gowda said that Mr. Kumaraswamy was taking rest in the farmhouse as he had fever and the EC was "tormenting" him.
Terming the development as "unhealthy," Mr. Gowda said that actions including the clamping of prohibitory orders and asking the leaders to leave the constituency were aimed at stopping the people from exercising their franchise and pave the way for rigging. Clamping of prohibitory orders was aimed at creating fear in the minds of the people, he said. Mr. Gowda said he had faxed a letter to the EC objecting the move.
To a query on the EC seizing materials from a house near the farmhouse where Kumaraswamy was taking rest on Sunday evening, Mr. Gowda said that T-shirts and badges that were meant for distribution among party workers were stored in that house. Regarding the gift items, he said that somebody had kept them to defame Kumaraswamy.
The rule was introduced to vacate anti-social elements who would stay in marriage halls and other places to create trouble during the bypoll, but not to vacate political leaders. "Staying in the constituency and distributing pamphlets and conducting door-to-door campaign is permitted under the law", he added.
"When Srikumar, the senior police officer appointed to oversee security during the byelection, asked me to leave the constituency, I told him I would leave the place in case he was convinced of the EC order. With my experience in the Kanakapura election, I requested him to concentrate on marriage halls where there is a possibility of anti-social elements staying to create trouble," he said.
Mr. Gowda sought to know on what grounds the EC was objecting to the stay of senior leaders including Mallikarjuna Kharge, H.K. Patil and others in the constituency.
"Are they anti-social elements? The EC should allow leaders of all political parties to ensure free and fair elections", he said.
Quoting extensively from the `Election Law and Procedure' by Chawla, he said that the law permitted door-to-door campaigning even after the dead line for public campaigning ended. Taking objection to the district authorities clamping prohibitory orders under Section 144, Mr. Gowda said that the Commissioner of Police was under pressure from the EC.
"Mr. Praveen Sood, who confessed that he was not prepared to sign the order later in the day, clamped prohibitory orders succumbing to the pressure", he said.
"As indicated by the Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly, N. Dharam Singh, the Congress is preparing ground for imposition of President's rule," he said.