CASH FOR VOTES
The state Youth Congress poll throws up an‘ aamaadmi’ winner in Rizwan Arshad. Detractors lose no time in accusing him of rigging and buying his way to victory.
n unknown party worker, a “common man”, takes on the might of a Union minister’s son and wins. But even before he could celebrate the great upset, rivals accuse him of booth-capturing and rigging—a rare accusation given that large-scale rigging has never been Karnataka’s style of electioneering. There is also a sulking heroine and deep political intrigue. And if it’s Karnataka, there has to be mining money.
The rise of Karnataka’s first democratically elected Indian Youth Congress ( IYC) chief has all the trappings of a B-grade Bollywood film. The man in question is former NSUI leader and IYC general secretary Rizwan Arshad, 32. The commerce graduate, the first Muslim to become BJP- ruled Karna-
Ataka’s IYC state chief, defeated Union Minister of Labour and Employment Mallikarjun M. Kharge’s son Priyank, 29, polling over double the 7,000-odd votes cast in the latter’s favour.
Within days of the election in midOctober, allegations of malpractice and money power were flying thick and fast. An estimated Rs 3-5 crore is said to have been spent on Arshad’s election, largely sourced from his friends in the mining sector. “Most of this money has come from the mine owners, as Rizwan comes from a middle-class background and does not have the kind of money need to run a campaign,” an Arshad aide told INDIA TODAY. Both his supporters and detractors attest to this source of money spend.
Top film actor Ramya provided the glamour quotient to the election, suddenly surfacing to become an IYC mem- ber and contested for booth-level president. A section of senior leaders in the party quickly jumped in, stating she would contest the presidential polls. Arshad’s detractors say he and his supporters swung into action and “scared her away” from filing her nomination.
A group of disgruntled candidates, comprising sons of senior Congress politicians, are knocking on the doors of Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi who is also in charge of IYC. “We are not saying Rizwan is directly responsible. But those who worked for him engineered to ensure the election was rigged. Anyone who opposed him was either threatened into submission or bought off,” says a disgruntled candidate who is camping in Delhi.
Arshad’s detractors have complained to IYC chief Rajiv Satav and to the members of the NGO Foundation for
NEWKARNATAKAYOUTH CONGRESS PRESIDENT (CENTRE) RIZWAN ARSHAD WITH OPPONENTPRIYANK KHARGE (LEFT)