Cloud of moneybags over Cong primaries

Cloud of moneybags over Cong primaries

Rumblings of annoyance over aspirants' efforts to buy out voters

Cloud of moneybags over Cong primaries

As more and more Congress leaders aspire to contest the Lok Sabha election from Bangalore North, a section of the party has begun to ask the need for holding primaries or internal polls to select candidates when aspirants are willing to buy out voters. 

Like Dakshina Kannada constituency, aspirants in Bangalore North have also started to influence voters through money power. A businessman, who is said to be leaving no stone unturned to become the candidate, has been spending anywhere between Rs 10,000 and Rs one lakh for a vote, according to sources. 

Ever since the date for primaries was announced, the number of ticket aspirants for Bangalore North has grown to 10. Arathi Krishna, daughter of former minister Begane Ramaiah, T Sripad Renu, grandson of former chief minister Kengal Hanumanthaiah, former minister V Muniyappa and former MLA N L Narendra Babu have come forward to contest the primaries. There are already six candidates in the fray, including C Narayanaswamy, B L Shankar and K C Ramamurthy. 

In the internal elections, elected representatives and members of the Congress’ frontal organisations are the voters. About 650-700 Congress members are eligible to vote on March 13 — the date for polling. March 7 is the last date for filing nomination papers. But given the horsetrading, some senior leaders have already given up their intention to file the nomination papers. Even some senior ministers have sided with the businessman in question, although he has neither been in the Congress for long nor attended any of the party functions or rallies. Some other aspirants are also trying to woo the voters. 

“Unethical” practice

Upset about the development, some leaders have complained to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and KPCC president G Parameshwara about the “unethical” practice. When Deccan Herald asked B L Shankar, one of the aspirants for the Bangalore North ticket, whether moneybags had begun speaking for the prospective nominees, he said the intention of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in introducing the primaries was to restore internal democracy and respect the cadre’s opinion. “Reports coming from various sections of the party about the role of money are a cause for concern,” he said. “Fairness and ethical means should be adopted. I have brought the matter to the notice of the chief minister and the party president.” 

Shankar further said that if inducements and lobbying by powerful aspirants swayed the voters, the very purpose of holding the primaries would be “defeated”. “Winning the primaries is not important but winning the general elections is,” he said. 

“The party should ensure that contenders are selected in a transparent manner.” He also said that he was in two minds about contesting.