BJP looks to blunt graft charge, focus on ‘delivery of promises’ in Karnataka
In poll-bound Karnataka, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is hopeful that its electoral narrative, highlighting the government’s “achievements” in executing big-ticket projects and delivering financial aid through direct benefit transfer will deflect attention from the opposition’s charges of corruption against the state government, said people aware of the details.
The party will navigate the election pitch towards “delivery of promises” and “no leakages”, a BJP leader said on condition of anonymity.
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“The double-engine government (BJP government at the Centre and in the state) has been able to implement the promises that were made to the people, whether it was the construction of the new airport or the launch of the Vande Bharat Express or enhancing connectivity to Bengaluru, Mandya, Tumakuru and nearby areas by introducing new trains especially short distance trains. The government has been successful in meeting the promises it made for infrastructure development,” the leader said.
While the BJP was banking on chief minister Basavaraj Bommai’s “clean image” to retain power in the state, allegations of graft and irregularities levelled against the government by a section of people including teachers and builders came as a shot in the arm for the opposition.
After the Karnataka State Contractors Association publicly complained that 40% commission had to be paid for government contracts and clearance of bills, the Karnataka unit of Congress put up posters with the chief minister’s photograph, a QR Code and the words ‘PayCM’ splashed across to draw attention to the allegations of corruption. A section of teachers had also shot off complaints to the Prime Minister’s Office, accusing the education department of seeking bribes.
More recently, the recovery of ₹8 crore in cash from the residence and office of Prashanth Madal, son of BJP MLA from Channagiri, Madal Virupakshappa, by the Karnataka Lokayukta gave the opposition ammunition to train its guns on the government.
Concerned by the charges of corruption derailing its development agenda, the BJP has decided to include information about the disbursal of funds from the Centre and state as part of the election campaign. Details of funds disbursed for schemes will be provided to the electorate through targeted messages relayed through social media platforms and during traditional canvassing, which includes doorstep visits and public meetings.
“When people talk of corruption, they speak about leakages. There has been monitoring of schemes from the drafting stage to implementation, ruling out the possibility of graft. There is corruption when money meant for the poor does not reach the beneficiary, here we ensured transfer of financial aid through DBT,” the leader said.
Reeling off details, a second functionary said the BJP government has disbursed ₹725 crore in scholarships to children of farmers under the Mukhyamantri Raitha Vidyanidh. “As many as 10.34 lakh students in the state benefitted from the scheme,” the second functionary said, declining to be named.
The state government is also claiming credit for e-governance initiatives such as Grama One, Janasevak, online services in the transport department that it claims offers doorstep delivery of services.
“Initiatives such as appointment of 15,000 school teachers, constructions of 8,101 classrooms and toilet facilities to schools and colleges have helped provide quality education and improve school and college infrastructure.,” the second functionary said. “Additional grants of ₹857.75 crore have been allocated to various corporations under the departments of backward class welfare, social welfare, scheduled tribe welfare and minorities welfare to help more youth in their education and employment.”
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Refuting the opposition’s charges against the state government, Arun Singh, national general secretary and in-charge of the state, said the outcome of the by-polls is an indication that the BJP is on firm footing in the state.
“Whether it is the local body elections in areas such as Belgaum, Hubli, Bijapur and Mysore, where we did well or the party’s performance in the by-polls that were held in the past five years, where we won 22 of the 24 seats, there is an indication of an upward trend for the BJP,” he said. “The party is riding high on the development agenda of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”