JDS files PIL on ‘Karnataka model’ of poll corruption

Pointing out that Ramanagara Congress MLA H A Iqbal Hussain defended the issue of gift cards as an election strategy,
JDS Youth Wing president Nikhil Kumaraswamy holds out a complaint letter against Congress MLA HC Balakrishna in Bengaluru on Friday, Feb 2, 2024.
JDS Youth Wing president Nikhil Kumaraswamy holds out a complaint letter against Congress MLA HC Balakrishna in Bengaluru on Friday, Feb 2, 2024.| Express

BENGALURU: The Karnataka High Court issued notice to the Election Commission of India (ECI), State Election Commission and Union government on a public interest litigation filed by JDS Youth Wing president Nikhil Kumar K and three others, seeking direction to the ECI to take stringent measures immediately, in addition to the Model Code of Conduct, for the Lok Sabha elections.

The PIL seeks to curb innovative and ingenious methods and corrupt practices, and ensure that the ‘Karnataka model’ of purchase of votes for gift cards is not followed, as was done during the Karnataka Legislative Assembly elections.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice P S Dinesh Kumar and Justice T G Shivashankare Gowda issued notice after hearing the petition filed by Gautham Gowda M, Prasad K R, former Magadi MLA A Manjunath and Nikhil Kumar K, seeking direction for ‘bribe-free’ elections in India.

Pointing out that Ramanagara Congress MLA H A Iqbal Hussain defended the issue of gift cards as an election strategy, the petitioners prayed to court to direct the ECI to act on the representation dated July 12, 2023, submitted by them concerning corrupt practices during the assembly elections.

Clarifying that this petition is not concerned with the irrational freebies in the state, the petitioners alleged there were large-scale violations and corrupt practices in more than 42 assembly constituencies, including Ramanagara, Magadi, Kunigal, Mandya and Bengaluru.

JDS wants action against Balakrishn

The JDS has lodged a complaint with the Chief Electoral Officer, Karnataka, against Magadi Congress MLA HC Balakrishna for allegedly “blackmailing” people of rolling back the ruling party’s guarantees, if people do not vote for its candidates. JDS Youth Wing president Nikhil Kumaraswamy and others lodged the complaint, alleging that “by saying that its guarantees would be rolled back, if the people do not vote for the Congress in the general election, is not short of blackmail, and this is also in violation of the Model Code of Conduct”. They urged the CEO to take action. In their complaint, they have stated that Balakrishna’s statement is in violation of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and the CEO can take action against him and his party. Speaking to reporters after lodging the complaint, Nikhil alleged that such statements from the MLA cannot be made, without the consent of CM Siddaramaiah or senior party leader Rahul Gandhi.

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