Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar, and several other leaders of the party were detained in Bengaluru today in connection with the ‘PayCM’ campaign targeting Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai. The list also includes BK Hariprasad, Priyank Khadge, Randeep Singh Surjewala and other leaders.
The campaign was an offshoot of allegations about leaders of the ruling BJP extracting 40 per cent commission from builders, contractors and others. The claims have triggered a huge political storm in the state ahead of next year’s assembly elections.
Earlier this week, posters resembling the design of e-wallet Paytm, and carrying the image of Mr Bommai on the QR code with the message “40% accepted here” had surfaced across Bengaluru.
If scanned, the QR code directs one to a website — ‘40% Sarkara’ — accusing the Bommai-led BJP government was charging 40 per cent commission on public works. The website was launched a few days ago by Congress.
Senior Congress leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said there will be no let-up in the campaign. “The campaign will continue across the state,” he told reporters this evening.
Calling the campaign an “evil design” Mr Bommai earlier said, “They have given no evidence”.
“It is all politically motivated. I have challenged them to produce proof. During their (Congress) tenure, there were many scams that should be looked into,” he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
The Karnataka police, which was investigating the matter on the instruction of the Chief Minister, had arrested BR Naidu, the former chief of Karnataka Congress’ social media team, on Wednesday night.
The Congress has taken up corruption allegations by a contractor and converted it to an election issue.
Contractor Santosh Patil died by suicide in April, accusing former minister KS Eshwarappa of demanding “40 per cent cut money” in a project he executed.
Mr Eshwarappa was cleared by the police after investigation.
In an interview to NDTV, DK Shivakumar had said the state’s contractors have repeatedly alleged that they had to pay bribes of up to 40 per cent of the value of a project to government officials to secure contracts.
In letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, they have also claimed that during the Congress regime, they had to pay only 10 per cent, he said. The Education department, Mr Shivakumar added, has also written to the Prime Minister making similar complaints.