After bribery scandal, BJP may have to pay dearly for ‘40% commission’ tag

Bengaluru: Following a BJP MLA becoming the prime accused in a bribery case initiated by the Lokayukta, the ruling BJP, which had built up a good momentum for the assembly elections in Karnataka after the repeated visits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, is facing the daunting task of restoring goodwill and regaining momentum, according to sources.

A couple of months ago, the Congress state unit and high command also expressed their confidence about returning to power in the state. The leaders stated that an internal survey conducted by the party showed them getting a comfortable majority.

Former Chief Minister and JD (S) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy challenged the national parties to come to his doorstep after the election.

BJP leaders from New Delhi including Union Home Minister Amit Shah who claimed that the elections would be contested under the leadership of Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, have now maintained that elections would be fought under a collective leadership.

They underlined that votes would be sought in the name of PM Modi.

In this scenario, the repeated visits of Modi and Amit Shah and their sharp attacks on the Congress and the JD (S) had turned the tide in the BJP’s favour The attacks on family politics, aggressive campaigning and road shows by both the leaders created an advantageous position for the saffron party.

At a time when the BJP was consolidating its strong position for the assembly elections without projecting former chief minister B. S. Yediyurappa, the issue of the BJP MLA from Channagiri constituency, Madal Virupakshappa, being named as the prime accused in the Lokayukta trap case has upset the BJP’s applecart, say insiders.

Following the campaign blitzkrieg by Modi and Amit Shah, the Congress, the JD (S) and other political parties of Karnataka seemed to be clueless. Opposition leader Siddaramaiah even called Modi a poll agent for his repeated visits.

After this incident, the opposition leaders have launched an all out attack on the BJP. The allegations of 40 per cent commission, which haunted the saffron party are back again and put the party into a defensive mode, say party insiders.

The allegations of 40 per cent commission by Belagavi contractor late Santhosh Patil, who committed suicide after blaming former minister K.S. Eshwarappa for his death, dented the image of the BJP. Following the clean chit to Eshwarappa by the Special Investigation Team (SIT), the BJP Karnataka unit had heaved a sigh of relief.

Commission charges by the State Contractors’ Association and allegations in this regard by Kempanna, who wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office, were dubbed as a game by the opposition. Now, with the BJP MLA’s case, all allegations are back to trouble the BJP at a crucial juncture.

Party insiders say that Modi and Amit Shah will visit the state more often in the coming days and restore the goodwill generated for the BJP in Karnataka.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai while claiming that the accused BJP MLA won’t be protected, gave a hint of turning the Lokayukta weapon towards the opposition Congress. “All scams during the tenure of Congress party would be investigated,” he stated.

Sources said that shortly major action will be initiated against the Congress leaders.

The scenario in Karnataka is becoming more interesting as the polls are nearing. The Model Code of Conduct will be implemented at any point of time from now on. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party has also entered the fray in Karnataka making the fight even tougher in the assembly elections.

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