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Congress demands Bommai’s resignation for voter data theft

IndiaCongress demands Bommai's resignation for voter data theft

Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala alleged that Karnataka Chief Minister Bommai, and others are involved in theft of voter data

Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala alleged that Basavaraj Bommai, BBMP and Election Authority are overtly and covertly responsible for the theft of voter data, fraud and impersonation through brazen misdemeanors.

Surjewala held a press conference and tweeted, “Shocking exposé has revealed that those sitting in the citadels of power including Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, they are overtly & covertly responsible for theft of voter data and for fraud & impersonation 👇🏼

“The 40 percent commission sarakara has now corrupted the election process also. Bommai, BJP government and its officials, BBMP and the Election Authority are together partners in crime in trampling democracy with the evil design of snatching voting rights from the innocent Bengalureans,” he further alleged in a statement posted on his Twitter handle.

He demanded Bommai’s resignation for being party to a crime in squashing democracy. Surjewala said a private entity, named Chilume Educational and Rural Development Institute, referred to as Pvt Entity Chilume, has committed a brazen fraud of collecting voter data by impersonating its privately hired employees as government officers and issuing them booth level officers’ (BLOs) cards.

Posing as BLOs, employees of Chilume collected voter data in 28 assembly constituencies comprising information like caste, religion, age, gender, mother tongue, marital status, Aadhar Number, phone number, address, voter id number, email address of voters, he alleged.

Chilume then uploaded the entire vital voter information on a private app called Digital Sameeksha owned by its sister concern, Chilume Enterprises Private Limited, instead of uploading on the election commission voter registration helpline Garuda or Voter Helpline, Surjewala said. “This was one more fraud perpetrated on the innocent voters of Bengaluru,” he said.

Surjewala further alleged that Chilume also subcontracted its work to multiple agencies and 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 drive, he said.

Surjewala alleged that the proximity and connection of Krishnappa Ravikumar, owner-director of Chilume, Chilume Enterprises Pvt Ltd & DAP Hombale Pvt Ltd to IT Minister Dr CN Ashwath Narayan is apparent from the fact that he has been pictured as celebrating the birthday of Krishnappa Ravikumar. He also alleged that permission was given for the Mahadevapura assembly and it was then extended to all 28 assembly constituencies of Bengaluru vide a government order dated 20 August 2022.

“Intriguingly, Chilume sought to do this voluminous exercise free of cost,” he said. Surjewala alleged Chilume is connected with and owned by common owners and directors of two other entities known as Chilume Enterprises Pvt Ltd and DAP Hombale Pvt Ltd, and the centerpoint of the ownership is one Krishnappa Ravikumar.

Chilume Enterprises Pvt Ltd claims to be an election management company including working for EVM preparation for political parties. Shockingly, it also offers temporary polling personnel from virtually every branch of government, he said. The company also runs Digital Sameeksha and claims that it has a varied set of client base of political parties, MPs, MLAs, corporators and aspirants.

The cache of data was not fed into the Garuda application of the government but into an application ‘Digital Sameeksha’ of the private firm, Surjewala charged.

The firm also appointed hundreds of Booth Level Officers (BLO), which technically should be government-appointed persons, said Surjewala, adding that these BLOs were also given identity cards resembling as if they are government employees.

“We want to know who permitted a private entity to conduct the survey on behalf of the BBMP? Who recommended the government to give such a contract to a private entity and why the antecedents of the contractor were not checked?” Surjewala said.

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