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.

India Today - - NATION - By Sowmya Aji

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)

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