Video of K'taka BJP MLA's 'Supporter' Distributing Cash among Women Goes Viral, Cong Files Plaint

Representative image.

Representative image.

A video has surfaced where a purported supporter of BJP MLA Preetham Gowda is seen canvassing for votes in a village after dusk and giving out cash.

Deepa Balakrishnan

A day after allegations were raised against a candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for hoarding cash at a relative's home at Dubbak in Telangana, a similar incident left the saffron camp red-faced in Karnataka with videos of cash being distributed among voters going viral in Tumkur’s Sira area.

The Congress leadership has filed a complaint with the Election Commission after a video surfaced where a purported supporter of BJP MLA Preetham Gowda is seen canvassing for votes in a village after dusk and giving out cash.

Addressing local women, he is heard saying, "We have come here today to introduce ourselves to the mothers. MLA Preetham Gowda has told us to give money for 'harshina kunkuma' (a term in Kannada that means an offering in gratitude to women along with kunkum). Today, we will give you Rs 200. The day after tomorrow, again we will give you money. And two days after that, again. Of course, on the eve of the polling day, we will give whatever we have to give. We feel that the women folk are neglected every time. Usually, whoever comes (on campaigns) gives money to the men and goes away. Nobody gives even a rupee to women. However, our MLA has said that whatever little help we can give to our women folk, we must give, towards 'harshina kunkuma.' So please accept this."

He then goes on to say that the problems of the constituency can only be solved by a legislator belonging to the ruling BJP. "All we say is this: if you need your problems resolved, it can only be done by a BJP MLA. No one else can do it. Only if you have a BJP MLA, will the Centre also give funds. There is the BJP at Centre and state. If you have a BJP MLA here, you will get funds to your constituency."

In its complaint, the Congress said an FIR should be filed in the case, and the BJP candidate be barred from contesting the election.

Former chief minister and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) leader HD Kumarswamy who was campaigning in Sira on Tuesday, also referred to the incident during his speech. "I had sanctioned money to fill up all tanks in this constituency. Instead of going around distributing Rs 200/1,000 to voters, why don't you fill up the lakes, since you are in power," he said, referring to the ruling BJP leadership.

Gowda, an MLA from neighbouring Hassan district, while admitting that he and his supporters had gone to Sira for canvassing on Monday, said the case was purely political.

"There are all allegations during election time. Do you think someone will go distribute cash a week before election? I have no idea. Just because I was there, my followers had come to see me. They (JD-S leaders) are scared here like they were during the KR Pet election (a constituency that saw a by-election last December where the JDS lost a seat to the BJP)," Gowda told News18.

Claiming that some people wanted to "cry wolf" before anything happens, he said, "During elections there are always allegations. All allegations are not true and they cannot substantiate it.”

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