Late night drama was witnessed on Tuesday in the run-up to the critical Karnataka assembly elections as the BJP demanded that the upcoming polls in Rajarajeshwarinagar be countermanded (scrapped) and that special election observers and para-military forces be placed in the Badami constituency. Almost simultaneously, the Election Commission held a news briefing on the events in Rajarajeshwarinagar.
BJP's in-charge for Karnataka, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar, tweeted the following:
1. The investigation wing of the I-T Department carried out an operation at a hotel in Badami, which is one of the two constituencies from where chief minister Siddaramaiah will be contesting, and allegedly recovered a large amount of cash and documents showing huge cash distribution.
The Karnataka Chief Electoral Officer said that the findings constituted a violation of the model code of conduct and that it would take action.
2. In a late-night news briefing the State Election Commissioner confirmed that at least 9,746 voter ID cards were seized from an apartment in Bengaluru's Rajarajeshwarinagar. Along with the voter ID cards, which carried names and phone numbers of people in the constituency, laptops, printers and files were also recovered. The EC said that it did not have a full understanding of the findings yet and that it would investigate into the matter. Three observers have been posted at the location. The EC also said that there had been an inordinate increase in voter numbers in the constituency.
The BJP has alleged they were being hoarded by the Congress candidate, who is said to be a close aide of Siddaramaiah.
Tuesday witnessed high-octane campaigning by both the BJP and the Congress with the Prime Minister addressing three rallies and former Congress president Sonia Gandhi descending onto the poll battleground and addressing a rally at Vijayapur. Meanwhile, her son and successor as Congress president Rahul Gandhi created a stir by being caught on video telling an alleged closed-doors meeting that he would be Prime Minister if the Congress emerges the biggest party in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Karnataka is scheduled to go to the polls on May 12 and the results are expected on May 15.
00:05 am: The Congress will hold its own counter-briefing at half-past-midnight
00:25 am: BJP press briefing took place following a 20-minute meeting between PM Modi and Amit Shah at Raj Bhawan in Bengaluru
00:40 am: Congress news briefing begins
"BJP seeking attention by levelling allegations when it is caught red-handed."
"Recoveries made not by EC or Police, but by persons belonging to the BJP."
"BJP enacting midnight drama to make it seem as though Congress has some role in this recovery."
"We are here to disclose the treachery of democracy being played by BJP which is facing imminent defeat."
"We are here present evidence of the fact that BJP is enacting this drama to get election countermanded"
"Who is Manjula Nanjamuri? She's a BJP leader & ex-corporator and owner of this flat. Who has she rented it out to? Tenant of this flat is Rakesh who is Manjula's son and contested corporation election under BJP ticket in 2015 and lost."
"This is a classic case of pot calling the kettle black... Who raided the apartment? BJP workers raided!"
"Will you today tell the truth to the nation? Will EC lodge cases on BJP leaders?"
'Manjula Nanjamuri has nothing to do with BJP. She has left party 6 years ago. She has worked for Munirathna Naidu. She is a Congress person. The flat given on lease, we are asking for full inquiry, because she and her son are at loggerheads. Congress' game is to spin a story of lies'
"That flat isn't given to any BJP worker. This is the falsehood. This is the Congress. It is very clear that Manjula is working for Congress."
'Congress is losing and is trying to rig elections. This is a serious issue'
'An office was being run to make Voter ID cards'
'It is a raid by EC which has found all these things, and they have filed FIR. Congress is trying to lie loudly and pin it on BJP'
01:27 am: BJP to take matter to Central Election Commission
Prakash Javadekar addresses briefing and says the following:
'It was a fake voter ID factory with modern gadgets.'
'Countermand Rajarajeshwari polls, initiate probe & arrest flat-owner Manjula Nanjamari'
'Our workers are going door-to-door. They suspected because CCTV and street lights were removed. They saw through the window and recorded it... We have done a national duty'
Congress' Anand Sharma replied after a party delegation met the EC in New Delhi:
'We have submitted a detailed memorandum about malpractices of BJP to EC.'
'Raids carried out by BJP, not Police or EC officials.'
'BJP stands exposed today. We have given all the evidence to the EC... Two persons are running the country by remote control -- PM Modi and Amit Shah. And the remote controlling them is with the RSS in Nagpur'
Rakesh, whom BJP claims is a 'whistleblower' and Congress claims is flat-owner Manjula Nanjamari's adopted son, denies the latter claim while addressing a news briefing, and says the following:
'I've given my statement to the EC. I've got threats from Munirathna's supporters. All files have been seized in front of us. We called police, they came after a while. I've got nothing to do with the flat'
Manjula Nanjamari, owner of Bengaluru flat where almost 10,000 voter IDs were found speaks exclusively with Republic TV:
'I didn't know about this. I was with the BJP. Not a BJP worker anymore. Was never with Congress. People come to us, seek votes and leave. I am not the mastermind and have no connection with what was happening in the apartment'