The Madras High Court on Friday asked the Election Commission if the Puducherry Assembly election – scheduled for April 6 – could be deferred in light of allegations the BJP had wrongfully accessed and misused voters’ Aadhaar details, including phone numbers, for campaigning purposes.
“Why can’t the Puducherry polls be deferred?” the court asked, as it directed the poll body to investigate and file a full report by March 30.
The plea filed before the court alleged that the BJP – which one polling agency predicts will win a massive majority in next month’s election – had wrongfully accessed Aadhaar-linked mobile phone numbers of voters to send WhatsApp messages and invites to groups linking voters at booth levels.
The BJP has said it will file a response in court via its legal team.
In a hearing on Wednesday the court said this is “a matter of serious concern”, pulled up the poll body for “passing the buck” and urged it to treat the matter with the seriousness it deserved.
“It will not do for the Election Commission to pass the buck in this case and say that the cyber crimes division is conducting an investigation. When the Election Commission is up and about in all other matters and asserts its primacy and authority, it has to look into this allegation immediately and with the degree of seriousness that it deserves,” the two-member bench – of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy – said.
Earlier today the party released its manifesto, which promises 2.5 lakh new jobs, financial assistance of Rs 6,000 per year for fishermen and free two-wheelers for girls pursuing higher education.
It also promises an extra Rs 2,000 to farmers under the PM KISAN scheme, a five-year water security plan and an Integrated Cattle Development Centre under the Rashtriya Gokul Mission.
Puducherry votes for a new 30-member Assembly April 6, with results due May 2.
In the 2016 election, the Congress won 15 seats, the All India NR Congress secured eight, the AIADMK four and the DMK two. The BJP could not win any.