Pragativahini News, NewDelhi – The Congress on Wednesday complained to Central Election Commission Commissioner Rajiv Kumar in New Delhi about the voter list scam in Karnataka, including the theft of voter information, sale and deletion of names of specific voters.
AICC General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala, KPCC President DK Shivakumar, Campaign Committee President MB Patil, Communications and Social Security Department President Priyank Kharge, IT Department Head Raghunandan Ramanna, Rajya Sabha Member Nasir Hussain, MLC Nazir Ahmed, AICC Media Coordinator Pranav Jha, AICC Secretary Bosraj, Vineeth Pooniya, KPCC General Secretary Vijay Dhangund were present.
Chief Election Commissioner &
His Companion Election Commissioners of India
The Election Commission of India, Nirvachan Sadan
New Delhi – 110001
ELECTORAL DATA FRAUD IN KARNATAKA
SUBJECT: REQUEST TO INITIATE INVESTIGATION INTO THE ALARMING & WIDESPREAD FRAUD COMMITTED IN VOTERS LIST IN KARNATAKA TO ILLEGALLY SECURE PERSONAL AND ELECTORAL DATA OF VOTERS IN KARNATAKA & TO TAKE STRINGENT ACTION AGAINST THE CM SHRI BASAVARAJ BOMMAI AND ALSO THE OFFICIALS/INDIVIDUALS INVOLVED IN THE FRAUD
We write to bring to your attention a case of brazen electoral fraud committed in Karnataka with the active connivance and blessings of Chief Minister Shri. Basavaraj Bommai, officials / officers of BBMP and the State Government as also private agencies and individuals. All this has been done with a view to influence and tamper with the personal information of voters and add or delete names from voters list for malicious electoral considerations in order to influence the outcome of elections.
- Shri Bassavaraj Bommai, CM is the Minister in-charge of BBMP, i.e. the Bengaluru Corporation. The Chief Commissioner of the BBMP is also the designated electoral officer.
- One Chilume Educational & Rural Development Institute (herein referred to as ‘Chilume’) applied to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagra Palike [‘BBMP’] to conduct voter awareness drive of the Election Commission. At first, permission was granted by the BBMP for Mahadevapura Assembly and it was then extended to all 28 Assembly Constituencies of Bengaluru vide Govt order date 20th August 2022. A copy of the Govt order is attached as Annexure A1. It may be noted that this Private Entity, Chilume sought to do this voluminous exercise “free of cost”
- Without any advertisement and without undertaking any kind of verification or background check, BBMP immediately granted permission on a mere application. Chilume, then committed a brazen fraud of collecting voter data by impersonating Govt officers of Chilume even went to the extent of issuing BLO (Booth Level Officers) cards. It is our allegation that this was carried out with the knowledge of the BBMP because of the facts that follow. A picture of BLO cards is attached as Annexure A2.
- Thus, posing as officers of Govt of Karnataka e., BLOs, employees of the Chilume collected voter data in 29 Assembly Constituencies including such sensitive and private information such as caste, religion, age, gender, mother tongue, marital status, Aadhar Number, phone number, address, voter id number, email address of voters.
- Chilume uploaded this entire matrix of voter information on the “Private app – Digital Sameeksha” owned by its sister concern, Chilume Enterprises Pvt. The information was not uploaded on the election commission voter registration helpline “Garuda” or “Voter Helpline”. This was clearly a fraud being perpetuated on the innocent voters of Bengaluru who assumed this was an exercise sanctioned by the relevant and competent authorities.
- Chilume also subcontracted its work to multiple private agencies/NGOs across Bengaluru thereby further compromising personal voter data among multiple unauthorized agencies. The voters giving this sensitive private information were made to believe that the information was being given to BLOs as a part of the voter registration
The above facts, by themselves demonstrate that Chilume was committing this entire fraud, cheating and impersonation under the political patronage of the in-charge minister, i.e. the CM, Shri Basavaraj Bommai; Chief Commissioner of BBMP [appointed in the position by Shri. Basavaraj Bommai] and other officers of the BBMP and the state Government.
It is pertinent to mention that Chilume is connected with and owned by common owners/directors of two other entities known as ‘Chilume Enterprises Pvt. Ltd.’ and ‘DAP Hombale Pvt. Ltd.’ The common ownership / control of these entities’ vests in one Krishnappa Ravikumar. Chilume Enterprises Pvt Ltd claims to be an “Election Management Company” including working for “EVM preparation etc. for political parties”. Shockingly, it also offers “temporary polling personnel from virtually every branch of Govt”. The private company [not the trust] runs the voter Survey App called “Digital Sameeksha” and it was into this private app that all the data collected by the individuals posing as BLO officials was being fed. It must be kept in mind that the company itself claims that Digital Sameeksha App has a varied sets of (private) client base of Political Parties, MP’s, MLA’s, Corporators etc.
Background and Connection of Chilume
- Connection with Ruling Regime: As per information available in the public domain, there is connection of Krishnappa Ravikumar, owner/director of the Chilume, Chilume Enterprises Pvt. Ltd. & DAP Hombale Pvt. Ltd. to former deputy chief minister & currently higher education & IT Minister Shri Ashwath Narayan and the same is apparent from the fact that Shri Ashwath Narayan has been pictured as celebrating and attending functions of Krishnappa Ravikumar. A Picture of Krishnappa Ravikumar and his celebration of are attached herewith Annexure A3.
- Further, the election affidavit of Ex BJP MLA from KR Pura Nandiesh Reddy shows that he paid 18 lakhs to “Chilume Trust” for voter data (copy of his affidavit as Annexure A9).
Additionally, and more crucially as we will see below, the training of the Chilume employees was conducted at the offices of a BJP MLA.
The connection to the ruling BJP is thus prima facie, apparent.
- Advertisements which show scope of exercise: Chilume, which was undertaking this voluminous exercise free of cost, had even issued advertisements (Copies attached as Annexure A4 and A5) for hiring “Business Development Executives” for collecting Data at a monthly salary of Rs 20,000- 40,000.
Chilume had even entered into multiple sub-contracts with other private agencies and NGOs (Copy of one unsigned contract attached as annexure A6) for making payments for Voter Verification at Rs 25/- per voter ID along with Rupees 50/- per subject data entry for so called BLO’s ([ii] of Annexure A6), For making payment of Rupees 30/- for identifying every new voter along with Rupees 10/- for every entry to team leader. ([iii] of Annexure A6), Payment of Rupees 13/- for Form 7 on verification of every entry along with payment of Rupees 10/- for every entry for team leader. ([iv] of Annexure A6), payment of Rupees 10/- for identifying every Non-Voter ([v] of Annexure A6). If the entire exercise was being done free of cost, then how could Chilume afford such a massive outlay, of close to Rs. 18 Crores. Where was this money coming from and who was funding this entire fraudulent operation?
- Data was not only collectively on deceptive premises, but was stored on a private app. The State Government had entrusted to Chilume “Election Related Activities” and Personal Voter Data Collection” by written orders between 2018-2022. In fact, 22 such orders have been issued and the BBMP had authorized “Chilume” to collect Voter ID and “Family Details” by a written order (this tantamount to sanctioning theft and illegal voter data collection and is a flagrant violation of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951) which specifically bars private entities from collecting such data. [Copy of one such order dated 3rd March 2022 has been attached as Annexure A7]
Numerous persons hired by “Chilume” have come forward on video (attached as Annexure A8) to claim that they have collected personal voter data as employees of “Chilume” and were given BLO Cards.
- What is worrisome is that, when confronted by journalists with all the above information, Chilume and its director sought to intimidate and browbeat the journalists by allegedly dropping hints of being backed by powerful Karnataka politicians in the ruling regime.
- Massive addition and deletion in Voter List in Bengaluru and Karnataka indicating rigging and fraud. In the recently published voter list in Karnataka, 27 lakh voters have been deleted and 11 lakh voters have been added. This massive number of additions and deletions itself smacks of an apparent and serious fraud being played out under political patronage. [Annexure 8A]
We are annexing herewith a sample of vote addition and deletion in some constituencies. Hon’ble Commission will find that even outside Bengaluru upto 70,000 votes have been added and up to 1,57,000 votes have been deleted in many constituencies. The abnormally high number of additions and deletions itself reflects that almost all constituencies of Bengaluru and certain constituencies outside Bengaluru have been targeted by design for addition and deletion of votes with a view to influence the outcome of the election. It goes without saying that this can only be done by and at the behest of the ruling party, i.e. the BJP.
This is a blatant electoral fraud on democracy itself.
The Hon’ble Election Commission must intervene for four reasons: (1) a private company was hired to collect detailed and sensitive voter data, which in turn, allegedly deceived voters to part with their information under the guise of being authorized government officials, (2) the information was loaded to a private app owned and controlled by an individual, (3) The persons behind the entity, which brazenly carried out these activities, across 29 assembly constituencies have repeatedly demonstrated a direct and close proximity to the ruling party and its leaders in Karnataka, including and especially the CM, Shri Basavaraj Bommai, (4) the alarming addition and deletion of voters by targeting specific assemblies in Bengaluru and outside reflects a deliberate design to influence the outcome of the election.
Thus, not only is voter information compromised, but these allegations point to the concentration of voter data in the hands of private parties for the benefit of a particular political group, whose patronage the accused also claim (and is evident from the repeated contracts being given to them). This destroys the existence of any level playing field for the conduct of elections in the State and opens the individuals whose entire data has been collected to profiling and potential intimidation. The Hon’ble Election Commission closely controls, monitors, and supervises how such data is collected precisely for these reasons and because of the concerns of voter suppression, intimidation and influence if an informational asymmetry is allowed to infect the electoral process.
This is a clear case of electoral fraud and impersonation of government officers, it is a case of identity theft, theft of private user data, dishonest misappropriation of property, concealment and misuse of stolen property, criminal breach of trust and criminal conspiracy. This is also a brazen fraud on our democratic process as votes are being added and subtracted to achieve a political outcome in favour of the ruling party. We request an urgent investigation to be initiated by this Hon’ble Commission while taking the following issues under consideration:
- Permission being granted to a private entity to for collecting electoral data and personal voter information like caste, religion, age, gender, mother tongue, marital status, Aadhar Number, phone number, address, voter id number, email address of voters, without following any due
- Contracted employees of a private entity being permitted to impersonate as Govt officers by being issued BLO cards, despite the fact that under Section 13B(2) of Representation of People’s Act, 1950, BLO can only be appointed from amongst the officers of Govt/Semi-Govt/Local
- Uploading personal data of voters by private entity on its private app – Digital Sameeksha, which supposedly is used by Political Parties, MP’s,
MLA’s, Corporators etc
- Chilume’s workers uploaded voters’ personal information into Digital Sameeksha, including caste, religion, mother tongue, education, marital status and political grievances.
- Sub-contracts were given by Chilume to other agencies to hire field agents. The field agents were promised a salary of Rs 20,000. If 4 agents were used to collect data in every ward of Bengaluru, the total cost for human resources will be Rs 1.6 Cr a month. Also, Chilume has agreed to pay Rs 20 for every confirmation of voter. If Bengaluru has 91 lakh voters, Chilume would have paid Rs 18 Cr to the sub-contractors. All salaries were paid in cash to the employees, this makes is amply evident that the intention of Chilume was to minimalize trail in their criminal
- Direct Connection of senior sitting Minister, Ashwath Narayan with Krishnappa Ravikumar, who is the common thread between Chilume, Chilume Enterprises Pvt. & DAP Hombale Pvt. Ltd.
- Former BJP MLA Nandeesh Reddy had made an advance payment of Rs 17.5 lakh to Chilume trust in 2018 to source data of the people. Nandeesh Redddy claims that Minister Ashwath Narayan had validated the authenticity of the trust and used the services of Chilume in
- The BBMP hurriedly cancelled the permission to the NGO after the Congress’ press conference as also the publication of news in this regard by an online publication and almost all other leading papers. Both BBMP and EC officials have confirmed that despite the cancellation order, the data has not been retrieved from Chilume and its
- Employees of NGO Chilume Trust have been arrested and various complaints have been filed against Further, Cheques and letterheads belonging to the same minister referred to above, i.e. Shri Ashwath Narayan, were recovered from the Chilume premises by the police during the investigation.
- The voter addition and deletion in such massive and unbelievable numbers evidences the fact that a deliberate conspiracy is being hatched to skew and influence the outcome of elections in favour of the ruling party.
Additionally, the following line of detailed question must be asked by the Hon’ble Election Commission of India:
On BBMP orders granted to Chilume
Why did BBMP give the order to the Chilume? Why was it extended, without explanation or justification, to 28 constituencies? Why was no advertisement issued?
- What were the criteria to employed to select Chilume for this sensitive exercise?
- Who is that Election Registration Officer whose name is printed on the ‘Fake ID’? And how did they get the signature? Or has the ERO himself signed the ID cards?
- How is it possible that the local BLOs not aware of such impersonations? Was no review conducted by the BBMP all into the workings of this entity tasked with such an important task?
On Digital Sameeksha App & Background Check of Chilume
It is clear that CM, as the in-charge Minister, Chief Commissioner and the officers of the BBMP knew that the data was being stored on a private app, called ‘Digital Sameeksha’. This is obvious, because the core of the exercise was collecting voter information and thus a fundamental query raised by BBMP must have been with regard to the storage and control of the data.
- The Chief Minister of Karnataka is the in-charge Minister of the BBMP. Obviously Chilume was selected as an agency which permitted the entire electoral fraud with his consent and knowledge. His role has to be investigated.
- Even agencies that are entrusted with the task of creating awareness should not be associated with any political party or be involved in the electioneering process. But this rule was violated while issuing orders to Chilume since it is clear from the Annexures that people behind Chilume have a close proximity to those in Isn’t BBMP a party to this fraud?
- Why did BBMP not do the background check before issuing the orders?
- Were BBMP officials not aware of the involvement of Chilume in electioneering work? Or did they give tacit support to the NGO at the behest of any influential leader front he government?
- What does it mean when Chilume claims it to be doing electronic voting machines and counting hall preparations?
- What does it mean when the company says it offers temporary polling personnel from every branch of government?
- Who are these government officials involved with Chilume?
- Why did they use the private mobile application ‘Digital Sameeksha’ to collect data, instead of using Garuda to educate people?
- Was the data given to the government?
- Why do they need the data?
- Have they shared the data with the ruling regime, i.e. the BJP?
- Were the data collected used to manipulate the electioneering in the state?
- Were the data collected used to delete the voters of the constituency?
Project being executed Free of Cost
If Chilume is doing it for free and not collecting any fee from BBMP, where are they getting that money?
- Who is funding Chilume?
- Are they using the data to benefit the ruling regime, i.e. the BJP or selling it to others?
- If the data was collected by the sub-contractors, is the data stored by multiple agencies?
- How will the data be used?
Ruling Regime’s connection
Why did Nandeesh Reddy need the personal data of the voters?
- Did he get any voters of his constituency deleted from the list?
- What the relationship between Ashwath Narayan and Chilume Trust?
- Did Ashwath Narayan collect personal data of voters of Malleshwaram through Chilume?
Cancellation of BBMP Order
Why did the officials not make any effort in their cancellation order to explain the reasons for the withdrawal of the permission given to Chilume?
- Why did they wait for the Congress party and the news items to expose the Chilume trust for BBMP to cancel the order?
- Why did BBMP not retrieve the data from Chilume?
Addition and Deletion of Voters
- Isn’t the alarming addition and deletion of voters from targeted constituencies reflecting an attempt to hijack and subvert the democratic process and impact the outcome of elections
Subsequent to the emergence of these facts and the expose regarding the details of the incident, the BBMP has filed a criminal complaint against the parties. This is a blatant attempt to whitewash and distance themselves from an alleged scam of their own making and one of which they are the direct beneficiaries. This complaint must be called for by the Election Commission and a separate arms-length investigation must be undertaken.
Furthermore, since we submitted the representation to the Hon’ble Commission at the State, certain new and shocking facts have come to light which are detailed below:
Fact I – Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has suspended 3 (Three) Election Registration Officers (EROs). As per the BBMP notice of suspension these officers were serving as revenue officers, and they had issued unauthorized Identity Cards for election related activities. This demonstrates that even the BBMP acknowledges that serious wrongdoing was taking place under this ‘scheme’.
[Source: https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/voter-data-theft-bbmp-suspends- three-officials-responsible-issuing-id-cards-170197]
Fact II – As per the employees/workers of Chilume, they were promised Rs. 25,000 monthly salaries with the incentive of Rs. 2 for each property being marked by them and the said amounts were paid in cash. They further admitted that they wore BBMP ID Cards and drew detailed maps of various properties. Additionally, the ‘Digital Sameekshaa App’ was registered under the name of Ravikumar (Director of Chilume Trust) as evident from a common GST title. This marks a serious conflict of interest since public data, sought ostensibly on behalf of the BBMP, was being fed into an app registered to a private person.
[Source: https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/salaries-paid-cash-workers-hired- chilume-ngo-map-areas-tell-tnm-170190]
Fact III – The training centre utilized by Chilume for committing electoral fraud and data theft was being held in the office of the BJP’s Bommasandra MLA Satish Reddy. This demonstrates on whose behest, on whose instructions and for whose benefit they were allegedly working. If any other party had carried out these activities in such a brazen manner, suborning government institutions for allegedly petty private purposes, the action would invite serious criminal investigation.
[Source: https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/chilume-trained-workers-bjp-ward- office-until-nov-17-15-days-after-cancellation-170169]
Fact IV – Chilume workers surveyed areas and prepared detailed maps of the areas and marked out each individual unit based on whether it was a commercial or residential property, and whether it was vacant or occupied. One of the workers confessed that they wore BBMP ID cards and collected details like name, phone number, voter ID, Aadhaar number, caste, religion, marital status, employment and addresses from the houses we visited. We uploaded them in an application called Digital Sameeksha.
[Source: https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/tnm-investigation-armed-govt- order-bengaluru-ngo-steal-voter-data-170013]
Therefore, an urgent and immediate investigation should be initiated by this Hon’ble Commission. The Hon’ble ECI must also initiate criminal law and ensure the registeration of an FIR against Shri. Basavaraj Bommai, officials and employees of the BBMP and the state government involved in the scame and the officials of the private entities and NGOs who have committed the fraud under political patronage.
This Hon’ble Commission must enforce what it commands. In light of the above, it’s important that this Hon’ble Commission intervenes and exercises its power under Article 324 of the Constitution of India and address this issue by taking stringent actions against officials involved in such illegal and malafide acts.
We hope the Hon’ble Commission treats this matter with the urgency that it deserves. Warm Regards
Indian National Congress (AICC)