The Karnataka government has taken down Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s app following the Election Commission of India’s instruction to delete posts and other mentions on social media that promote the government’s achievements, The Hindu reported on Thursday. The poll panel has also ordered the government to remove photos of Siddaramaiah and other Congress ministers from official websites.

The principal secretary to the chief minister, LK Atheeq, told Deccan Herald that the app’s suspension had nothing to do with privacy concerns. “The app was taken down because of the code of conduct,” he said. “The government has signed an agreement with Infopine requiring the company to keep user data confidential.”

The development comes days after the Congress removed its app from Google Play Store after allegations that the party was selling users’ data. “We have already got the chief minister’s photos removed from the government websites,” the newspaper quoted an unidentified official from the poll panel as saying. “On similar grounds, any data stored on government works or achievements should be removed from official online content.”

‘Data can be misused’

The Centre for e-Governance runs the Siddaramaiah app using content that the chief minister’s office provides. It was launched on October 31, 2017, and widely promoted on government websites, newspaper and television ads, billboards, and even buses. More than 1 lakh people downloaded it.

Bengaluru-based software engineer Shreeharsha Perla has alleged that analysis shows that users’ data from the chief minister’s application was being sent to a website owned by a Mysuru-based company called Infopine, which had developed the app. “Details of people who downloaded the app is being stored in a private database,” he said. “This data can be misused during canvassing.” He had earlier raised questions about the app in a series of tweets.

Siddaramaiah’s seat

Voting in Karnataka for the 224-seat Assembly will be held on May 12. The results will be announced on May 15. The dates were announced on March 27, when the model code of conduct was also implemented.

Meanwhile, Siddaramaiah on Thursday said he would contest the elections from Chamundeshwari in Mysuru, The News Minute reported. Janata Dal (Secular) state President HD Kumaraswamy had challenged him on Wednesday to contest from this seat.

“I have full faith and belief in my voters,” Siddaramaiah said. “They will neither listen to him [Kumaraswamy] nor will they let me down. If he has the guts, let him also contest from here. We will see whom the people will elect.”

Siddaramaiah first contested from Chamundeshwari in 1983 as an independent candidate. Since then he has contested from there six times, losing twice – in 1989, when he was the Janata Dal’s candidate and in 1999, when he stood on a JD(S) ticket.