Eight members of the Karnataka legislative council are in serious trouble, and at risk of probable disqualification, for reportedly falsifying their addresses to vote in last year’s Bengaluru mayoral election and submitting fake travel bills. A report regarding this has been submitted to the Chief Electoral Officer, but action, if any, will be decided by the legislative council chairman, D H Shankaramurthy. The case stems from a bizarre rule in the Karnataka Municipality Act which allows Lok Sabha members and MLAs representing constituencies part of a city and MLCs and Rajya Sabha members residing in that city to vote in the mayoral election.
So, though BJP won 100 of the 198 wards in the 2015 elections to the Bengaluru city corporation, Congress (76 wards) joined hands with JD(S) (14 wards) and with the help of MLCs, MLAs and MPs belonging to the two parties, managed to get its mayoral candidate elected.
After the Congress-JD(S) combine repeated its 2015 formula in 2016 (mayors have a one-year term in Karnataka), BJP filed a complaint with the legislative council chairman. It said eight MLCs —six Congress and two JD(S)—voted in the 2016 mayoral election by claiming they were Bengaluru residents. The complaint added the MLCs also claimed about `37 lakh travel allowance between October 2016 and April 2017 by saying they reside in other places in the state, outside Bengaluru.
A probe was ordered by the Chief Electoral Officer and the report, submitted recently, is said to have confirmed the foul play. If true, this is a clear case of malpractice for electoral gains, done with the blessing of the Congress and JD(S) leaderships, and those involved must face punishment. For, the next mayoral election is scheduled in this month, and only those who are eligible to vote should be allowed to participate. Honesty is probably not a virtue in politics, but dishonesty cannot be allowed to go unpunished. Members who have no qualms about indulging in fraud for political gains have no right to be in legislatures.