Special Correspondent

Gross violation of Child Labour Act and IPC: D.K. Shivakumar

“Violation of Representation of the People Act”

Complaint lodged with the EC

BANGALORE: The Congress has accused the former Union Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate for Bangalore South Lok Sabha constituency, H.N. Ananth Kumar, of engaging children to campaign for him in the elections.

Addressing presspersons here on Sunday, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) working president D.K. Shivakumar said the BJP candidate was allegedly employing “child labour” in gross violation of not only the Child Labour Act, but also the Representation of the People Act and the Indian Penal Code. The Congress has since lodged a complaint with the Election Commission (EC) in which it has sought the immediate arrest of Mr. Ananth Kumar.

Mr. Shivakumar said Mr. Ananth Kumar had engaged the services of about 50 to 60 children in the age group of 8 to 14 to campaign for him. “The schoolchildren are being paid between Rs. 100 and Rs. 150 for the services rendered.” Mr. Shivakumar, who described the “misuse” of children for election campaign as “shameful”, called upon Mr. Ananth Kumar to withdraw from the fray as it was a “matter of shame for all politicians.”

“The Election Commission should act immediately and direct Mr. Ananth Kumar to withdraw from the contest,” he said.

The Congress leader has also lodged a complaint with the EC against the reported misuse of office by the Chief Minister’s secretariat and the personal staff of Ministers to improve the prospects of candidates belonging to the BJP.

“The officials of the district and taluk-level are being directed, and sometimes threatened, to work in favour of the BJP and also oblige BJP workers in order to strengthen their campaigns. These officials are also blackmailed and coerced to act as per the directions of the Chief Minister’s office or otherwise face serious consequences, including transfer,” Mr. Shivakumar said and added that there was no reason for the officials to speak to the district and taluk administration in the midst of the election process. He urged the Election Commission to secure the transcripts of the telephonic conservations between the secretariat officials and the officials at the district and taluk-level to get to the root of the matter.

Meanwhile, the Congress has also brought to the notice of the Election Commission the reported influence being brought on the election officials in Davangere with regard to accepting the nomination of BJP candidate Siddesh, who is facing charges of misappropriation of MPLAD funds. During scrutiny on Saturday, the election officials withheld the acceptance of Mr. Siddesh’s nomination papers. “But, doubts have arisen in the matter after Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley spoke to the election officials,” Mr. Shivakumar said.