Lottery King relieved after electoral bond data is out | Powertrip

Lottery King relieved after electoral bond data is out | Powertrip

Welcome to Powertrip, a newsletter exclusively curated for TNM subscribers by Dhanya Rajendran, Shabbir Ahmed, and Pooja Prasanna. In this issue, we look at how ‘Lottery King’ Martin Santiago is a relieved man after the SC verdict on Electoral Bonds and why Sowmya Reddy is likely to face-off against Tejasvi Surya in the Bangalore South parliamentary constituency.

Inside Track

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BJP is demanding more seats from allies

The Supreme Court order striking down the electoral bonds scheme and ordering the State Bank of India to submit details about the buyers and beneficiaries has come as a source of worry for some and as relief for others. A few like ‘Lottery King’ Santiago Martin, who heads Future Gaming and Hotel Services, were initially worried. And that’s because it’s now emerged that Martin’s lottery company is the top buyer of electoral bonds.

TNM has learnt that on March 13 Martin was in Chennai, where a meeting was held with his family members and other supporters. The businessman was concerned that SBI’s data was going to expose him. But since SBI submitted the details, sources say that Martin is relieved because the data sheds light on just how much pressure political parties have been exerting on him for donations – the bulk of which have gone to the BJP, DMK, and the Trinamool Congress. Those close to Martin say that despite his company purchasing electoral bonds, central agencies would turn up at his doorstep.

With the SC calling the electoral bonds scheme unconstitutional and the details now public, those close to Martin say that the ‘Lottery King’ feels the pressure on him may come down.

Sowmya Reddy likely to face-off against Tejasvi Surya

Congress is looking to break its 33-year-old losing streak in the Bangalore South parliamentary constituency. The seat, a BJP bastion, is currently held by Tejasvi Surya, who was given the party ticket in 2019 after six-time MP Ananth Kumar’s demise. To turn its fortunes around in Bangalore South, the Congress is looking to former Jayanagar MLA Sowmya Reddy.

Sowmya was initially not keen on contesting from Bangalore South because of how things transpired in Jayanagar in the 2023 Assembly election. Sowmya lost to BJP’s CK Ramamurthy by a razor thin margin of 16 votes following a recount. In fact, Tejasvi Surya played a part in the controversial election.

But over the last three months, leaders like Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar have been urging Sowmya to contest. Sowmya’s father and Minister Ramalinga Reddy was also approached by Congress leaders. Randeep Sujrewala even came to Bengaluru to persuade the former MLA. It appears now that Sowmya may finally be on board and is most likely to be Congress’ candidate in Bangalore South. The reason Sowmya agreed to contest against her bitter rival Tejasvi is because the party believes that people aren’t happy with the BJP MP because he’s not been hands-on for the last five years.

Zero Hour

A political story of public importance
Poonam Agarwal, Journalist
Poonam Agarwal, Journalist

"SBI in an RTI reply confirmed that these unique numbers were recorded and it is used for audit trail. The finance ministry responded to my story saying that the unique hidden number is a security feature. So both are true, it is a security feature and also used for audit trail." - Poonam Agarwal, Journalist.

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