The poster battle in Bengaluru took a new turn Thursday after the ruling BJP released its own set of posters to counter the ‘PayCM’ poster campaign by the Congress. The saffron camp also said that it would file a defamation case against Congress for initiating its posters on Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai.
Under the ’PayCM’ campaign, Karnataka Congress levelled allegations of corruption against the BJP government. Congress workers put up posters titled ‘PayCM’ with a QR code image of Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai in different parts of the city Wednesday, irking the state government.
Accusing the Congress of resorting to false allegations, state BJP president Nalin Kumar Kateel said, “Congress is unable to tolerate the developmental activities being carried out under BJP.” He added that his party will investigate all the scams the Congress had concealed during its rule in the state.
On Thursday, the state unit of BJP released a poster and a 28-page booklet targeting Opposition leader Siddaramaiah. The poster released by the BJP has a caricature of former chief minister Siddaramaiah with 16 arms. Each of the arms depict an alleged scam committed during the Congress rule between 2013 and 2018.
Earlier in the day, angered by the BJP-led government’s decision to arrest Congress workers allegedly involved in sticking ‘PayCM’ posters, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president D K Shivakumar said all Congress legislators will now paste the same posters in government offices.
“BJP had put up our images too during various campaigns. When I was summoned for questioning (by investigating agencies), the media organisations had put up an image where I was depicted to be behind the bars. Does that mean I can file a complaint against them?” he said, after visiting the High Grounds police station in the city where Congress workers were detained on Thursday.
Shivakumar maintained that detaining Congress workers for the campaign amounted to abuse of power. “This is vendetta politics. Was it us who levelled allegations of 40 per cent commission (to secure government tenders against the government)? Did we claim that the CM post costs Rs 2,500 crore?” he asked, pointing out that it was BJP MLA Basangouda Patil Yatnal who had levelled the allegations.
Following directions from the state government, Bengaluru city police arrested five persons in connection with the ‘PayCM’ poster campaign in the early hours of Thursday. According to the office of Deputy Commissioner of Police, Bengaluru Central Division, three more were detained for questioning.
As per the FIR, the accused were arrested under sections of Karnataka Open Places Disfigurement Act and Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
The ‘PayCM’ issue led to a pandemonium in the Legislative Council on Thursday as Congress MLCs protested against the arrest of Congress workers. Opposition leader in the council B K Hariprasad said that while the police were quick to act on the campaign against the BJP government, it sat on cases filed by the Congress on similar campaigns carried out by BJP against Congress leaders.