The Karnataka Chief Election Officer held a news briefing on Wednesday where he confirmed Republic TV's sensational #BribeForVotes expose in relation to the almost 10,000 voter IDs that were found in an apartment in Bengaluru's Rajarajeshwarinagar on Tuesday.
Karnataka CEO Sanjiv Kumar reiterated what the expose had revealed -- that house-to-house surveys were carried out for some purpose and forms relating to these surveys that were part of the recoveries from the flat contained various details of the respondents.
The CEO also confirmed that a photo of a election candidate was found, though he refrained from furnishing specific information, apart from the fact that the police is investigating the matter and that two persons have been arrested so far.
While Sanjiv Kumar accepted that prima facie the operation was being conducted in order to garner votes and accepted it was a very serious matter because of the large numbers involved, he also expressed relief as the initial worry, that someone had hacked into the EC's systems and was manufacturing counterfeit voter IDs, had been ruled out. All the voter IDs found were genuine, he said.
The CEO also gave details of the various recoveries that were made elsewhere in connection with the elections, including Rs 79.29 crore in cash and over 5 lakh litres of excise commodities.
Earlier, Republic TV's #BribeForVotes expose had blown the lid off what appeared to be an attempt to systematically economically profile vulnerable sections in the area and determine their 'needs'. The voter IDs were collected from the surveyed persons and they were allegedly going to be given back to them on voting day (May 12). In exchange for the surveyed persons' votes, their pre-determined 'needs' would be fulfilled, sources said.
Furthermore, Republic TV received visual evidence of a Congress leader's visiting cards being found amid the voter IDs and other material at the apartment.
Late on Tuesday night, both BJP and Congress had held briefings and counter-briefings pinning the voter ID operation to each other. The news briefings continued on Wednesday and concentrated upon the ownership and current occupant of the apartment in question. The flat belongs to Manjula Nanjamari, a former BJP corporator, who, while speaking to Republic TV, denied any knowledge of the matter and said that she wasn't connected to either party. While the Congress has claimed that the flat's tenant is Rakesh, allegedly an estranged adopted son of Manjula Nanjamari, Rakesh, himself, has denied the claim. As per sources, the flat's tenant is a woman named Rekha who took up occupancy in the flat just a month ago for a rent of Rs. 16,000 per month.