Former Karnataka BJP leader promises to pay 6,000 per vote, party denies

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A former BJP minister in Karnataka made an astonishing remark that made his party look bad and incited a tonne of controversy. The BJP has stated that it will pay 6,000 per vote in the upcoming assembly elections, which are scheduled for May, according to Ramesh Jarkiholi, the state’s former water resources minister. The BJP quickly dissociated itself from the former minister who was compelled to resign in 2021 due to his alleged involvement in a sex scandal.

His supporters in the Belagavi village of Sulebavi organised the rally. The former minister made the remarks while criticising Lakshmi Hebbalkar, a congresswoman. Ramesh Jarkiholi, a member of the Congress, represents the Gokak constituency in Belagavi, while Lakshmi Hebbalkar represents the rural Belagavi constituency from the Belagavi district.

“I see that she is distributing gifts to her voters in the constituency. Till now, she must have given kitchen appliances such as cooker and mixer, worth around ₹ 1,000. She might give another set of gifts. All that together may cost around ₹ 3,000. I urge you not to vote for our candidate if we don’t give you ₹ 6,000,” Ramesh Jarkiholi said.

Govind Karjol, the minister of irrigation, quickly denied the allegations.

“There’s no place for such things in our party. Our party is built on an ideology because of which it has come to power in the country and has come to power with clear majority second time with Narendra Modi as leader,” he said. “In 2023 elections also we will come to power with clear majority,” added the minister.

“If some person gives a statement, it is not the statement of the party. It’s his personal matter,” he added.

The Congress demanded that the Election Commission take the former minister’s remarks into consideration.

“This goes to show the level of corruption in the BJP. Why isn’t the Election Commission or IT or ED not taking note of this?” said Congress MLA Priyank Kharge, who is also the state party’s communications in charge.

“Operation Lotus is a fact. He’s endorsing it. There are two and a half lakh voters. This isn’t a joke. Isn’t this malpractice by a BJP leader? Where is BJP getting all this money from?? Why no suo motu (investigation) by Election Commission?” he added.

“What Ramesh has said is unconstitutional. The code of conduct hasn’t come in place yet. Once that comes in place, if such statements are repeated, then he or anyone from the BJP should be barred,” said Congress MLC Nagraj Yadav.

“All the BJP MLAs are surviving in the party by doing 40 per cent corruption. They have collected enough amount through bribes. The BJP is now planning to do the same during elections. I demand that the Election Commission look into this matter,” he added. 

The BJP, which came to power in 2019 after the HD Kumarswamy-led government collapsed less than a year after being elected, is vying for a second consecutive term.

However, the government of Basavaraj Bommai is facing multiple corruption allegations. The opposition Congress launched a spoof campaign called PayCM last year to highlight allegations that the ruling BJP was taking a 40% commission from builders, contractors, and others. It sparked a huge political storm in the state, and several members of Congress were detained by state police.

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