Congress leaders met Election Commission officials saying that the bribery charges against legislators don’t carry enough evidenceThe Congress party said on Monday scheduled elections to the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka should not be cancelled on account of sting videos because there is “not enough evidence” to support charges of bribery.
The videos, made by a television news channel, allegedly show legislators negotiating money deals in exchange for their votes for Rajya Sabha seats in Karnataka.
A representation of senior Congress leaders, including the party’s general secretary in charge of the state, Digvijay Singh, met officials of the Election Commission on Monday and submitted a memorandum requesting that the polls should not be countermanded.
Karnataka is the only state in southern India where the party is in power and it has high stakes in the elections to the Upper House.
“We have submitted our memorandum in which we have requested the EC to allow the elections to go on (as per schedule). We have given the reference of Jharkhand where cash was recovered from candidates. It will be wrong to consider the Jharkhand example for Karnataka. There is not enough evidence and so the elections should not be countermanded,” Singh told reporters after the meeting.
The Election Commission in an order on 31 March, 2012 had rescinded the then Rajya Sabha elections in Jharkhand after Rs.2.5 crore was seized in cash from the vehicle of a relative of an independent candidate. The EC in its order then had said that the polls were “seriously vitiated and cannot be permitted to proceed” and eventually rescinded its notification for the elections.
Four Rajya Sabha seats in Karnataka are going to polls on 11 June with a total of five candidates in the fray including union commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman and senior Congress leaders Jairam Ramesh and Oscar Fernandes.
According to a senior official from EC, the matter is under consideration and a decision will be taken soon. “The polling is on 11 June and we still have some time at hand. We need to see all aspects before coming on a decision,” the official said.
The EC has already sought a report from the Karnataka Chief Electoral Officer.