Karnataka SEC’s lens on unopposed poll winners
With as many as 8,074 candidates elected unopposed into gram panchayats, the Karnataka State Election Commission (SEC) has decided to explore the option of disqualification of candidates if they got elected by luring the electorate with money power, gifts, or other dubious means.
Official sources in the SEC said the very purpose of conducting elections would lose meaning if candidates were elected unopposed. “Moreover, it was a denial of the right to vote for the electorate in rural local bodies elections,” a source said.
SEC officials have held discussions with lawyers to find a solution to a large number of candidates getting elected without facing contest. Sources revealed that following the suggestions from lawyers and senior officials, the SEC has decided to issue circulars to all Deputy Commissioners to verify the process of electing candidates unopposed.
In the second phase of the polls, which will be held on Sunday, 3,697 candidates in different gram panchayats in districts have already been elected unopposed. Districts where more than 100 candidates have been elected unopposed are Bengaluru Urban (139), Chitradurga (189), Davangere (163), Kolar (106), Tumakuru (111), Hassan (178), Mandya (185), Belagavi (332), Vijayapura (119), Bagalkot (158), Kalaburagi (242), Bidar (109), Ballari (319), Raichur (215), Yadgir (207), and Koppal (169).
It is reported that in some gram panchayats, candidates made attempts to get elected without elections by auctioning seats and declaring the highest bidder the winner. In some cases, candidates allegedly hosted birthday parties and distributed gifts to lure voters.
In the first phase of the polls, 4,377 candidates were elected unopposed, while in the second, 3,697 were elected unopposed. In some districts, close to 500 candidates were elected this way.
With the advancement of technology, many candidates who lost the elections are expected to provide evidence in video and other formats seeking disqualification of the elected candidates soon after the announcement of results. The counting of votes for the elections held will take place on December 30.
SEC sources said that based on the reports of the Deputy Commissioners, efforts would be made to challenge the election in court. “Like in the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections, the victory of candidates after violation of model code of conduct will be challenged only in the court of law. Already, in few cases and FIRs have been registered for violation of poll code in some districts,” the source said.