Guest post by AMANDEEP SANDHU
[This post is a report on what went on in Jayanagar, a constituency in the southern parts of Bangalore, in the Vidhansabha Elections, May 2023]
Yesterday, 13 May, by 2.30 pm or so, the Jayanagar seat had gone in favour of Sowmya Reddy, Congress. It had been a very closely contested election with her rival CK Ramamurthy, BJP in close pursuit. Sowmya Reddy’s final lead, after 16 rounds, was 160 votes.
Flag 1: The Election Commission website was pretty up to date with all candidate results, but Sowmya Reddy’s results were very slow in coming. Her final result came online by around 6 pm while the counting was over, and she had gained her lead at 2.30 pm.
As Sowmya Reddy was leaving to collect her certificate, Ramamurthy also left the vote counting venue – SSMRV college. However, the Election Commission of India rules mandate that since the victory margin was lower than the number of postal ballots, a recount of postal ballots had become mandatory. When Sowmya Reddy was absent, Ramamurthy came back and requested for a recount of the postal ballot. Postal ballot is the term used for those votes which are cast by outstation voters and the pink form submitted by service personnel – police, officers, ambulance drivers and so on – who would be on duty during elections and can’t vote on election day. Their votes are recorded in advance. These votes are counted between 7.30 and 8 am, before strong rooms are opened and EVM vote count starts.
Flag 2: Any discrepancy in the postal votes needs to be brought to the election officer’s notice between 7.30 and 8 am. The convention is it is never raised post all counting is done. The election officer allowed a recount – 1st recount. Sowmya won again. This time by 294 votes.
Flag 3: After this, Ramamurthy requested for another recount. If any recount is asked for, it must come in writing. It should mention specific ward(s), booth(s) and EVM machine(s). It should be approved by Chief Election Commissioner. None of those happened. Yet, a recount was ordered – 2nd round. Once again Sowmya won.
Flag 4: Ramalinga Reddy, Sowmya Reddy’s father, winner from BTM layout reached the venue to correct his winner certificate and to meet his daughter. Former Revenue Minister R Ashok, BJP whose constituency Padmanabhanagar votes were also being counted at the same venue was also there. Around 7 pm, South Bangalore MP Tejasvi Surya, BJP reached the venue. Rules prohibit anyone who is not a candidate or an observer from entering the premises. Yet, Surya entered the premises. Rules prohibit carrying of cell phones inside the counting area but Surya was found with his phone, talking to someone. They asked for another recount. Rules lay out that recount is permitted only once. Yet, the local presiding officer allowed a 3rd recount. Congress contested how valid postal ballots in their favour were being rejected. The Election Commission did not respond. Once again, a recount was done – 4th recount. Sowmya won again but which postal ballots to include or reject was contested.
Flag 5: The BJP asked to include discarded postal ballots. These 177 ballots were earlier discarded because they were unsealed, unverified, and were not attested by the presiding officer. They needed to be video graphed. They were not video graphed. By 8.45 pm, DK Shivakumar reached the venue but was not allowed inside the premises. Congress objected to these discarded postal ballots being counted. They were not counted. After 4th recount, Sowmya Reddy won.
Flag 6: By now it was about 10 pm. Under pressure from Surya, the rejected ballots were included. DK Shivkumar and Ramalinga Reddy’s objections were overruled, and another recount was ordered. Overall, 5 recounts, when only one is permitted. While counting was on, DK Shivakumar left the venue. Ramalinga Reddy spoke to media saying he just wanted result to be declared.
No request for recount came in writing.
No request was permitted by Chief Election Commissioner.
No objections by Congress legal cell were answered.
By around 11.30 pm, Ramamurthy came out and waved to his supporters who had swollen outside the venue. They broke into cheers. Sowmya Reddy’s supporters started shouting ‘shame, shame’. Police dispersed them. Chief Election Commissioner then declared Ramamurthy’s win by 16 votes.
Video: Congress Legal Cell lawyer Mr Jayam Movy speaking as the 5th recount was being conducted. 11.15 pm. Video from Rohini Mohan.
7 thoughts on “How the Jayanagar Vote was Stolen – What Does Not Add Up: Amandeep Sandhu”
Mr Surya MP from south should be removed from MP , he thinks he knows everything , he should stop bucketing to PM , iam totally regretting as I was voted to him , he is not learning from the mistakes, God will punish him in future.
Shameful and low down behavior on the part of Mr.surya tejasvi MP.
Unfortunately, persons who behave like this ultimately become prime minister or homeminister in this country.
I thank Kafila and Aman Praji for this important initiative.
Am no supporter of the INC and have never voted for that party but am shocked by and condemn the robbery of the election of Ms SOWMYA REDDY, a caring and indefatigable activist and legislator from the Jayanagar constituency.
Fervently hope she appeals this robbery and that she gets the BEST legal eagles on her side.
Can think of three in Karnataka itself: former state Advocate General Professor Ravivarma Kumar and former Additional Advocate General (and now MLA-elect from Coorg) Mr A.S. Ponnanna as well as Dr Aditya Sondhi. Mr Prashant Bhushan, Ms Vrinda Grover, Ms Indira Jaisingh, Mr Henri Tiphagne and others also come to mind.
Mr.Surya MP has put lot pressure on the election officer, who has violated certain rules in favour of the party which won after recounting. Clearly there is some foul play in re-counting. Sowmya Reddy has done lot of development works as an MLA. A friendly approachable person. She has to be deserved as winner.
Such blatant violations of rules and norms. Sowmya Reddy was denied what was hers. People mandate has been twisted. Strong arm tactics and bullying employed to undermine the process.
Thank you for writing about this important matter. I hope KPCC and Sowmya Reddy’s legal teams have prepared their petition and filed it with the ECI and the appropriate court.
I wanted to note that the caption and image in the article does a disservice to the editorial quality of Kafila. I am glad to see that you are highlighting the fact that there was an independent candidate with a name very close to Sowmya Reddy. I am disappointed to see that you did not identify that Sl. 13 in the ballot was an independent with the name B Ramamurthy !
This shows the dictatorship rule where all the rules are kept under and favor one person when you have lost accept . If in future we dont want to see these type of scenes we should through out all these Mp`p in the coming general elections