Karnataka elections on May 12, EC to investigate schedule ‘leak’ | india news | Hindustan Times
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Karnataka elections on May 12, EC to investigate schedule ‘leak’

Karnataka, the last major state still ruled by the Congress, is also the only southern Indian state where the BJP has been in power in the past.

india Updated: Mar 27, 2018 23:47 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A pedestrian walks past election campaign posters for Karnataka elections 2018 in Bengaluru.
A pedestrian walks past election campaign posters for Karnataka elections 2018 in Bengaluru.(Bloomberg File Photo)

The Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday released the schedule for the Karnataka assembly elections, crucial for both the state’s ruling Congress and the opposition BJP, but the announcement was quickly put in the shade by a controversy over the dates being revealed by a television channel and two political party functionaries who shared it on social media minutes before a public statement by the poll panel.

Polling will take place in single phase on 12 May and the votes will be counted on 15 May, the EC said, immediately following up with the announcement of an investigation of how BJP’s Information technology cell chief Amit Malviya and Karnataka Congress’s Srivatsa B shared the dates on Twitter before chief election commissioner OP Rawat got to the part on a live telecast .

The committee of investigators, who have been asked to submit a report within seven days on how the dates appeared to have been leaked, “would also suggest steps needed to prevent any such eventuality in future. The committee set up by the commission has already sought information from the concerned media organizations and individuals,” the EC said in a statement.

Current position of parties in Karnataka
*Including one seat of the Karnataka Makkala Paksha; **Including 3 seats of the Badavara Shramikara Raitara Congress and two seats of Karnataka Janata Paksha; One seat is Nominated

The statement said the six-member committee, which has three deputy election commissioners, will inquire from Srivatsa B and from a “Kannada Channel allegedly owned by a @BJp4india MP” the source of information pertaining to the schedule. The poll panel did not identify the BJP MP, and also did not specify if more information would be sought from Malviya, who himself gave an explanation within hours of the controversy.

Malviya and Srivatsa, the social media in-charge of the Congress’s Karnataka chapter, tweeted the polling date, but got the date of counting wrong; both later attributed their information to a news channel. “For those asking me about my tweet on the poll dates, wasn’t listening to the EC presser, saw local and national media flashing the dates and thought that it has been announced. Simple as that,” Srivatsa tweeted.

The Congress, which is in power in Karnataka, accused the BJP of being the “the super election commission.”

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Karnataka, the last major state still ruled by the Congress, is also the only southern Indian state where the BJP has been in power in the past. The state is crucial for both parties as a victory will hand the winner early momentum before a slew of ensuing state elections in the run-up to next year’s general election.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted: “Credibility of EC is on test. Will EC now issue notice to BJP President, Amit Shah & register an FIR against BJP IT Head for leaking EC’s confidential information? (sic)” Malviya has told the poll panel that he sourced information from a TV channel and his tweet was in no way “intended to infringe upon the constitutional mandate of the election commission”. An EC official, requesting anonymity, said this is the first time a poll schedule was leaked while the panel was in the process of announcing it.