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The Karnataka unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party has launched an ‘ATM Sarkara’ campaign targeting the Congress-led state government over “widespread corruption” allegations, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
The move is a replication of the campaigns such as ‘PayCM’ and ‘40% commission’ launched by the Congress in August last yearagainst the then BJP government in Karnataka.
The ‘ATM Sarkara’ campaign comes in the wake of recent income tax raids carried out on October 12, leading to seizure of nearly ₹94 crore in cash from properties owned by contractors, including an office-bearer of the contractors’ association. According to the campaign, the BJP has accused the government of utilising Karnataka as an ATM to finance Congress election campaigns in other states.
The party had on October 20 also started a poster campaign titled ‘ATM Sarkara Collection Tree’ on the same lines.The poster prominently features Congress MP and former party president Rahul Gandhi, followed by national general secretaries Randeep Singh Surjewala and KC Venugopal, chief minister Siddaramaiah, deputy chief minister DK Shivakumar, Siddaramaiah’s son Yathindra Siddaramaiah, Minister Byrathi Suresh, and contractor Ambikapathy.
Even though the Congress has been trying to maintain its focus on highlighting the state government’s schemes and their implementation, especially after the announcement of election dates in Telangana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Mizoram, the BJP, however, has been accusing the government of being hand in glove with the contractors in terms of corruption.
Reacting to the development, senior BJP parliamentarian DV Sadananda Gowda said: “People have now come to know how the administration has been run in the state for the past five months. All development works have come to a standstill, and the situation is so dire that not a single pothole is being filled”.
“The central point of the collection business is Delhi, and Rahul Gandhi has assumed full responsibility for it,” he said. “The BJP intends to take the poster campaign across Karnataka in the coming days to challenge the perception fostered by the Congress government”, he added.
However, All India Congress Committee president Mallikarjun Kharge dismissed the allegations stating that the Congress government in Karnataka is only a “few months old” and the BJP is trying to “defame” the party.
“The chief minister and deputy chief minister have already addressed this (the issue). It has been only a few months since the government was formed, and they are already making these claims. They are attempting to defame the government due to elections, but this strategy won’t succeed,” he said in Kalburgi.
Following the raids, chief minister Siddaramaiah had remarked on October 16 that opposition parties were making baseless allegations and issuing politically motivated statements linking Congress to the IT raids on contractors. “There are no such things as BJP contractors or Congress contractors. I refer to them as BJP contractors. The IT department has not levelled any allegations against the government. These are all baseless claims,” he had said.
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