A former minister of the BJP in Karnataka has made an astounding comment that has left his party red faced and triggered huge controversy. Ramesh Jarkiholi, the state’s former water resources minister, has announced that the BJP would pay Rs 6,000 per vote in the assembly elections due in May. The BJP has promptly distanced itself from the former minister who was forced resign in 2021 for his alleged role in a sex scandal.
The rally was organised by his supporters in Sulebavi village in Belagavi. The former minister’s comments came during his attack on Congress MLA Lakshmi Hebbalkar. While Congress’ Lakshmi Hebbalkar represents the Belagavi rural constituency from Belagavi district, Ramesh Jarkiholi represents the Gokak constituency in Belagavi.
“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 Rs 1,000. She might give another set of gifts. All that together may cost around Rs 3,000. I urge you not to vote for our candidate if we don’t give you Rs 6,000,” Ramesh Jarkiholi said.
Irrigation minister Govind Karjol has issued a prompt denial.
“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 note of the former minister’s comments.
“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 statet 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 the 2019 after the HD Kumarswamy-led government crashed over a year after it was elected, is hoping for a second straight term.
But the government of Basavaraj Bommai is struggling under multiple allegations of corruption. Last year, the opposition Congress had launched a mock campaign PayCM to highlight allegations that the ruling BJP was extracting 40 per cent commission from builders, contractors and others.
It triggered a huge political storm in the state and a number of Congress leaders were detained by the state police.