Karnataka minister seeks probe into BJP’s ‘poll malpractices’

June 2nd, 2009 - 12:48 am ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Bangalore, June 1 (IANS) In what could prove an embarrassment for Karnataka’s BJP government, state Energy Minister K.S. Eshwarappa Monday sought a probe into allegations that money and liquor were used by the ruling party to lure voters in the recent general elections in the state.
“I appeal to the party’s state unit president D.V. Sadananda Gowda to set up a committee of senior leaders to probe the charge that money and liquor were used by the party machinery to lure voters in the Lok Sabha elections,” Eshwarappa told reporters at Shimoga, about 270 km from here.

Eshwarappa hails from Shimoga, the home district of Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa. He represents Shimoga in the state legislative assembly.

Echoing the simmering discontent in a section of the party over Yeddyurappa’s style of functioning, Eshwarappa said by fielding the kith and kin of ministers in the Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party had lost the moral authority to accuse the opposition parties of indulging in similar practices.

Though the party won 19 of the 28 parliamentary seats in the state, Eshwarappa asserted that the means employed in the elections were as important as the victory itself.

“I am elated that the BJP won 19 seats in the elections. At the same time, I believe means are as important as ends. More than development and ideological issues, distribution of money and liquor were prominently discussed during the elections in Shimoga. Loyal BJP voters, who are not used to such a political culture, lost motivation to vote. The party had similar experience in other constituencies,” he said.

Yeddyurappa’s younger son B.Y. Raghavendra won the high-profile Shimoga Lok Sabha seat, defeating former state chief minister and party-hopper S. Bangarappa of the Congress by 52,893 votes. The election was held April 30.

Expressing displeasure over the “dynastic culture” seeping into the ruling party, Eshwarappa said he was being confronted by the people after the elections over the propriety of fielding the chief minister’s son, overlooking seniority.

Serious differences between the chief minister and Eshwarappa came to the fore after Yeddurappa expressed unhappiness over the lesser victory margin (52,893) by which Raghavendra won the Shimoga seat.

“The reason for low victory margin is due to lesser number of votes from Shikaripur assembly segment, represented by Yeddyurappa. As the party candidate polled more votes in Shimoga segment than in Shikaripur, the victory margin is more than 50,000 votes,” Esharappa said.

“The trend indicates that party leaders and activists were not comfortable with Raghavendra’s candidature,” he alleged.

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