It was the Congress’s ‘40% corruption campaign’ ahead of the elections that led to the defeat of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and brought the former to power. The same anti-corruption campaign – at ‘60%’ under the Congress regime, according to the BJP – has put the CM Siddaramaiah-led government in a spot.
The recent income-tax (IT) raids in the state provided the Karnataka BJP the necessary ammunition to target the government. The Congress, while proposing an audit of infrastructure projects in Bengaluru completed during the BJP’s tenure before approving payments to contractors, has denied the corruption allegations. Deputy CM Shivakumar dramatically stated that he “would quit politics” if someone could prove that he had asked for commissions from contractors and that he “would not fall prey to such blackmail”.
The BJP has launched a two-day protest across Karnataka to campaign on the alleged corrupt practices by the Congress government in the state as well as seeking the resignation of the CM and deputy CM, under whom they allege 60% commission is being sought.
Speaking to News18, senior BJP leader CT Ravi said, “Today, the liquor merchants’ association has written a letter to the government alleging that to procure a CL7 licence, for which the fee is Rs 25 lakh, the commission or (lancha) being sought by officials is Rs 75 lakh.”
“If you calculate, it is 300% commission. To shift a bar, the commission being sought is Rs 25 lakh, when the fees is just Rs 10 lakh. Isn’t that 250% commission? The Congress is collecting all this money and sending it to their Delhi high command to save their chair,” he told News18.
“‘We have launched a two-day protest as there is evidence to show their ‘activities’. As of now, they think they have numbers on their side, but we are also making people aware of the reality and will wait for the results,” he added.
BJP’s National President JP Nadda also made a statement that the “Congress has mastered the art of making promises and now this party has gone a step ahead and has started giving guarantees in return for promises”. He was referring to the recent series of IT raids where nearly Rs 42 crore was found at a residence linked to a contractor, R. Ambikapathy, in Bengaluru who the BJP allege has link to the Congress. He also said cash worth more than Rs 100 crore has been found in the houses of some contractors in Karnataka and called it an “extremely shameful and a disgusting joke on the voters”.
ಸಮಗ್ರ ಭ್ರಷ್ಟಾಚಾರಕ್ಕಾಗಿ ವಿಧಾನಸೌಧವನ್ನು ಭ್ರಷ್ಟಾಚಾರದ ಹೆಡ್ ಆಫೀಸ್ ಮಾಡಿಕೊಂಡು ಪಂಚರಾಜ್ಯ ಚುನಾವಣೆಗೆ ಭರಪೂರ ಫಂಡಿಂಗ್ ಮಾಡುವ ಹೊಣೆ ಹೊತ್ತಿರುವ ಕರ್ನಾಟಕದ ಕಲೆಕ್ಷನ್ ಮಾಸ್ಟರ್ಸ್ ಇವರೇ…#CongressLootsKarnataka #EightyPercentSarkara #ATMSarkara pic.twitter.com/226nqL9Kk0— BJP Karnataka (@BJP4Karnataka) October 16, 2023
The IT department released a statement, mentioning that they conducted a search and seizure operation involving government contractors, real estate developers and their associates on October 12. They covered about 55 premises during the search action in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and New Delhi. The statement noted that a significant amount of incriminating evidence, including loose sheets, hard copies of documents and digital data, were found and seized.
Three days after the seizure of Rs 42 crore at a contractor’s property, Ravi claimed that the confiscated funds are a portion of the illegal funding collected by the Congress for the upcoming elections. He also called the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct a comprehensive investigation, believing that the truth would emerge.
The Karnataka Contractors’ Association, which initially accused the previous BJP government of accepting a 40% commission, has also written to Governor Thaawar Chand Gehlot during this regime. In their letter, they mentioned that Bengaluru in-charge Shivakumar has not been clearing their bills. Shivakumar has categorically rubbished these allegations.
The contractors also sought assistance from former Chief Ministers B.S. Yediyurappa and Basavaraj Bommai from the BJP, as many of their bills have remained unpaid for over two years.
With inputs from News18