The Congress party in Karnataka has decided to intensify its campaign against alleged corruption by the Basavaraj Bommai-led BJP government in the state as political parties gear up for the assembly elections scheduled next year.
The party stepped up its attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party by putting up posters with Bommai’s face and a QR code captioned “PayCM” at various locations in Bengaluru. The posters resemble the QR code of digital payment company Paytm.
“These posters will be pasted in every village and Vidhana Soudha also. Chief minister Bommai is selling government jobs and it’s affecting the aspirants.” Priyank Kharge, a spokesperson for the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), told Moneycontrol.
Scanning the “PayCM” QR code takes one to a website launched by the KPCC recently to file corruption-related complaints against the government.
The BJP said the Congress party has no proof of corruption and was trying to defame Bommai.
Elections in Karnataka are due in April-May 2023 along with polls in Rajasthan. The Congress party’s Bharat Jodo Yatra is scheduled to enter Karnataka on September 30 and cover 511 km across the state in 21 days. Congress leaders said the yatra will play a key role in the polls.
40 percent jab
Some of the posters, with the tagline “PayCM 40 percent accepted here,” had been taken down by the Bengaluru police.
The KPCC launched an anti-corruption campaign ‘40% Sarkara, BJP Andre Brashtachara’ after contractor Santosh Patil’s death by suicide in a hotel in Udupi earlier this year. Patil had accused then state rural development and panchayat raj minister KS Eshwarappa of demanding a 40 percent commission for a public works project in his district.
Eshwarappa denied the charges against him and resigned in April. The Udupi police later cleared him of charges of abetting Patil’s suicide.
Kharge, who leads the anti-corruption campaign, said, “Along with ‘PayCM’ posters, we have also issued a rate card, which tells people how much money is being charged for jobs and public interest works. The rate card has been published on the basis of information and statements given by ruling BJP legislators.”
The Congress said the BJP-led government has not been able to fill vacancies in various government sectors.
“In the last three years, 20 lakh people have applied for 2.5 lakh job vacancies, but the government couldn’t fill them because of irregularities. The future of lakhs of people has been put at stake,” Kharge alleged.
The Directorate of Enforcement has approached a court in Bengaluru seeking permission to question those accused in the Karnataka police sub-inspector recruitment scam. According to reports, the agency suspects money laundering in the case.
BJP hits back
The BJP in Karnataka countered the Congress by saying it has no proof against the government and that its campaign is based on one contractor’s allegations.
“The Congress has stooped to a new level by defaming chief minister Bommai. Their entire campaign is based on the allegations of a disturbed soul. They will get it back because they understand the same language,” said BJP spokesperson Ganesh Karnik. “During Manmohan Singh’s government, there was rampant corruption in every sector. Against our party, there is not a single proof. Instead of picking up public issues, Congress is busy defaming us.”
Bommai has ordered an inquiry into how the “PayCM” posters were put up. Police officials have been directed to identify those who pasted the posters in Bengaluru.
Kharge told Moneycontrol that Congress party workers and leaders have been arrested.“Corruption is deep-rooted in the BJP government and our campaign is hurting them badly. Elections come and go, but we won’t let the people of Karnataka suffer,” Kharge said.