Belagavi: Belagavi district administration officials tasked with election responsibilities booked a case against two supporters of BJP MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi for influencing voters, police said.
A case under IPC section 171 (e) (bribing) was booked in Belagavi Rural police against Nagesh Mannolkar of Hindalga and Nagendra Balappa Nayak from Santibastwad in Belagavi taluk. Both of them face the charge of organising a mass lunch and feeding meat-based food to people who attended an SC/ST voters’ rally.
The BJP after its SC, ST wing convention served meals to around 3,000 people. Mannolkar against whom the case was booked is one of the aspirants to contest from the constituency and is being supported by Jarkiholi.
Belagavi Rural police inspector Arun Muragundi said the utensils in which food was cooked were seized. “The election flying squad raided the place and filed a case against the duo,” he said. A person in the squad said it was the first case in the district filed to prevent influencing voters ahead of the election.
In another case, police recovered unaccounted cash of ₹3.5 lakh at Yaddalgud check post in Gokak taluk last Wednesday, police said on Saturday.
According to information shared by Gokak tahsildar, one Lakshman Hanumant Gadad from Mannikeri village was carrying the money in his car. As he could not provide documentation, the unaccounted sum was recovered and deposited in the treasury at Gokak.
As the cases of giving gifts and hosting mass meals were on the rise, the district administration formed special squads to prevent such activities.
Deputy Commissioner Nitesh Patil who is also the District Election Officer, in a meeting with the political parties and the ticket aspirants, told them that cases would be filed if anybody is found bribing voters.
“Though the election code of conduct is not in force, the District Election Authority has right to book cases against those found wooing voters to prevent pre-poll irregularities,” Patil said at the meeting.
Both the BJP and Congress were found gifting kitchen and dining articles, gas stoves, sarees, among others, and hosting mass meals as it was not possible once the election code of conduct was implemented.
Deputy Commissioner Patil told the officials to recover any article distributed by political parties and book police cases. “The district administration will recover the things including food and beverages found distributed to influence people for votes. As the election code of conduct is not in force yet , regular cases with police will be filed against those involved in the distribution of gifts,” Patil said.
He added that the Election Commission guidelines state that cases under IPC sections could be framed against those found influencing voters with gifts and hosting meals three months before the election, which the administration is following in the district.