Seat auction: Polls to Sindigeri GP countermanded

Seat auction: Polls to Sindigeri GP countermanded

Representative image. Credit: iStockPhoto

Coming down hard on auctioning of seats, the State Election Commission has countermanded elections to constituencies of the Sindigeri gram panchayat in the Kurugodu taluk of Ballari district.

Some 13 people who wished to be elected unopposed as gram panchayat members had assured to pay Rs 51.2 lakh in the name of the village deity, provided no villager voted or contested.

Auctioning of seats has become a headache for authorities ahead of elections to 5,762 gram panchayats. The first phase of polling for 3,019 gram panchayats is scheduled on December 22. The second phase polling will be on December 27. In all, there are 2.97 lakh voters who will elect members for 92,121 seats.

But even before the first phase of polls, 4,377 candidates have been elected unopposed and 40,352 candidates have withdrawn their nominations. This stinks of auctioneering, according to sources.

In his order on the Sindigeri case, State Election Commissioner B Basavaraju noted that the aspirants had gathered voters of four gram panchayat constituencies at Eshwara Temple in Byluru village on December 5, and agreed to pay the amount to the deity after the completion of elections.

"By doing so, they have actually scuttled the process of election and thereby successfully prevented the villagers of Bylur from casting their vote... The misuse of the temple premises as a platform for auctioning the seats amounts to violation of the Model Code of Conduct," the order said.

Following a detailed investigation into the incident, elections to constituencies 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the Sindigeri gram panchayat have been countermanded. The SEC invoked Constitution Article 243-K to act against the aspirants "as there was no specific provision to apply to the present situation."

The SEC has flagged five more instances of auctioning where police complaints have been filed: Ward 1 of Bilawara gram panchayat in Yadrami, Kalaburagi; Bedli and Iragasandra villages of Madderi gram panchayat in Kolar; Yadalagatte village of Kaluvehalli gram panchayat, Challakere, Chitradurga; Bilaguli village in Arkalgud, Hassan; Hosalli EJ gram panchayat limits at Sindhanur, Raichur.