'PayCM' posters in Bengaluru against CM Bommai: Cops detain two Congress workers

Posters featuring CM Bommai’s face and a QR code linked to Congress’s anti-corruption campaign website surfaced in parts of Bengaluru.
'PayCM' posters in Bengaluru against CM Bommai
'PayCM' posters in Bengaluru against CM Bommai
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A day after posters captioned “PayCM” plastered across Bengaluru on Tuesday, September 20 grabbed eyeballs, two Congress party workers have been arrested for putting them up. The posters featured a photograph of Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and a QR code leading to the Congress party’s anti-corruption campaign website. Police sources told IANS that the two arrested were attached to the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) social media wing. The arrested were identified as BR Naidu, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) former social media chairperson and Gagan Yadav, a resident of KR Puram in Bengaluru who is also reported to be a social media resource person of the party.

The Congress workers were reportedly picked up from their homes by the police in the early hours of Thursday, at around 2 am. High Grounds and Sadashivanagar police did separate operations and nabbed the Congress social media team members following instructions by CM Bommai to initiate the investigation in this connection, according to IANS. Soon after the posters surfaced on Tuesday, Bengaluru Commissioner of Police Pratap Reddy had said that an FIR (First Information Report) was registered under various sections of the Karnataka Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act, and an investigation is ongoing. 

The QR code on the posters, designed to look similar to the logo of digital payments app Paytm, led to the Congress campaign website www.40percentsarkara.com. The Congress launched the website earlier on September 13 with the slogan “40% sarkara, BJP means brashtachara,” referring to the alleged 40% commission rate that contractors are allegedly forced to pay as bribes to officials of the BJP government in Karnataka. The website claims to “expose BJP’s corruption”. 

The ruling BJP and Congress had begun a war of similar QR code posters to trade corruption charges against each other. Opposition Congress came up with the idea first by putting up the 'PayCM' posters, and the ruling BJP later responded with QR code posters containing Opposition leader Siddaramaiah and state Congress president DK Shivakumar on Wednesday.

The authorities had pressed the services of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) personnel to take down the posters from walls and other establishments in Bengaluru. Answering a question about the 'PayCM' campaign, CM Bommai said that he had ordered an inquiry into the issue to find out who was behind it. "Anyone can do this with a motive. People will understand, they don't hold ground," he said. "It's not about my image, they are trying to dent the image of the state and that is why action would be taken against them," he added.

Meanwhile, reacting to the arrests, Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar told the media on Thursday, “Because of this 40% commission government, Congress leaders like Siddaramaiah, BK Hariprasad and I launched a campaign. Based on media reports and the government's 'rate card' published in the media, it’s true that we launched the PayCM campaign.” He added that the anti-corruption campaign has seen a huge response from people, with around 8000 people registering a complaint alleging that they were also forced to pay a commission. 

“After this, we published the QR codes with the Chief Minister's pictures on the front page of Prajavani (a Kannada daily). If we have done anything wrong, let them do any inquiry on us, or whatever else they want,” DK Shivakumar said. He added that Congress legislators and leaders will further intensify the poster campaign. 

Last week, several billboards were also put up in parts of Telangana, alleging there is a ‘40% commission government’ in Karnataka, alluding to the corruption allegations against the BJP government in the state. CM Bommai had called them a “systematic conspiracy”. 


With IANS inputs

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