“Acche din has come only for Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi. It's bad days for the nation's farmers and labourers,” Congress President Rahul Gandhi told reporters in Amethi on Tuesday morning.
It was however ironic that miles away in Karnataka, the Congress was trying to shield itself from a volley of allegations from the BJP for giving a ticket to HS Chandramouli, the lawyer who has represented Mehul Choksi.
HS Chandramouli has been chosen as the candidate from Madikeri, despite strong opposition from other aspirants for the same seat.
BJP in Karnataka called the Congress “supporters of Nirav Modi”. “What is so special about H S Chandramouli, lawyer of Nirav Modi's uncle Mehul Choksi, that Congress gave him a ticket from Madikere while denying one to Brijesh Kalappa, Siddaramaiah's legal advisor and party spokesperson? Rahul's friends over CM's aide? #CongressWithNirav,” Amit Malviya, head of BJP Sociaal Media Cell tweeted.
It isn’t just the BJP that has questioned the candidature, but people in the Congress too. Congress spokesperson Brijesh Kalappa who was an aspirant for the Madikere seat wrote, “I have been denied LS 2009, 2014. RS in 2014, 16, 18 and now Assembly. I will swallow the ignominy of being ousted from the race by a Person who joined the Party in 2016, got a Legislative Council Ticket the same year, lost and the same person now bags the Assembly ticket for Madikeri. This begs the question- if one person were given so many opportunities by the Congress Party, why did we let a brilliant person like Jayaprakash Hegde go merely because he wanted the MLC ticket after he lost Lok Sabha elections?!”
As the opposition grew, there were rumours that Chandramouli’s nomination will be withheld and that the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee is refraining from issuing him a B-form.
However, on Tuesday, the Congress in Karnataka issued a clarification and said that Chandramouli’s nomination has not been put on hold and that the Congress had decided to offer him a ticket only after obtaining clarity that Chandramouli had never met Choksi.
Speaking to the media, HS Chandramouli denied that he had any personal relation with Choksi and that he was one of “a thousand clients” he had represented.
“I have practiced in the Karnataka High Court for 35 years. I was the state Public Prosecutor for 10 years for the Congress and BJP governments. As a lawyer, my duty is only to defend, nothing else. I have absolutely nothing to do with it. In 2011 or something, some vakalat was filed and my office represented him. After all he was a client and I have not seen him at all. I am not someone who can be bought. He was one among thousands of clients. If I do not provide professional service to my clients, it goes against professional ethics,” Chandramouli told CNN-News18.
He also denied rumors that there were differences between him and Brijesh Kalappa. Chandramouli said that he accepted the ticket only because the Congress offered it to him and that he had never aspired to contest polls.
“Brijesh Kalappa is a very good friend of mine. He is a lawyer at the Supreme Court and he is not Siddaramaiah’s legal advisor. Siddaramaiah is a lawyer himself and he does not need a legal advisor. I am a defense lawyer and I have never gone to any political party for a ticket. After seeing my contributions in Kodagu, they offered me a ticket. Brijesh Kalappa entered the political fray only 15 days before the process of distribution of seats. If I had known he wanted to contest, I would have supported him,” Chandramouli added.
The Congress, on Saturday, released its first list of candidates and left out six constituencies — Shantinagar, Nagthan, Melukote, Kittur, Raichur and Sindgi.
State-owned Punjab National Bank (PNB) unearthed a Rs 11,300 crore scam and the CBI booked billionaire diamond trader and designer Nirav Modi, his wife Ami, brother Nishal and his maternal uncle Mehul Choksi in the case.