Karnataka election 2023: Congress complains to EC

Ads not cleared, tenders being issued just before code of conduct comes into force, EC officials not rotated; Congress complains to EC as battle for Karnataka begins

NEW DELHI | Updated: 10 April, 2023 10:21 pm IST
Senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid

As the battle for Karnataka picks up pace, a Congress delegation on Tuesday met with the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and complained about alleged shortcomings in enforcing election rules and identifying violations ahead of the assembly election in the state.

A group of Congress leaders, including former Union minister Salman Khurshid, Punjab MLA Pratap Bajwa, along with party Rajya Sabha MP Syed Naseer Hussain, met with Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar and told him about certain advertisements of the party not being cleared in Karnataka, where the election will be held on May 10.

The Congress leaders also apprised the CEC that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Karnataka issued tenders worth ₹1,600 crores just 48 hours before the election model code of conduct came into force.

The Congress delegation told the CEC that the Karnataka Chief Electoral Officer’s team has people who have been working there for several years, when the Election Commission’s guidelines say officers should be changed every three years to prevent bias.

“A list of such officers has been given to the Election Commission with a request to rotate them,” Khurshid said.

The Election Commission has not allowed Congress to run some advertisements in Karnataka, a move that the party alleges is unfair to them.

The Congress said the BJP has run “smear campaigns” against the Congress in Karnataka “without any restraint”. “Yet the Congress is not being given permission to run advertisements that are far tamer in comparison,” Khurshid said.

The party also alleged the BJP government’s decision to issue tenders just before the poll code came into force was “a direct and blatant attempt to influence the outcome of the state election”. It has requested the Election Commission to look into the matter.

Meanwhile, Congress had made a similar representation to the EC concerning the Lok Sabha byelection in Punjab’s Jalandhar, where voting will take place on May 13.

Congress delegation alleges the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Punjab has transferred several bureaucrats who are loyal to the AAP.

Congress also flagged the use of Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann’s photos at ‘Aam Aadmi clinics’ as a violation of the model code of conduct.

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