On July 28, the Karnataka High Court issued notice to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in a case seeking to set aside his election from the Varuna assembly constituency, alleging that the Congress CM committed electoral malpractice in the 2023 Karnataka Assembly Elections. The single judge, Justice S Sunil Dutt Yadav, said, “Notice under Rule 10, issued to respondent. Notice returnable by September 1.”
The petitioner KM Shankara, who is a voter from the constituency, alleged that the Congress party promised freebies during their campaigns and argued that seeking votes on such promises amounts to corrupt practice. The petitioner alleged that the five guarantees provided in the Congress’ manifesto for Karnataka elections amount to corrupt practices u/s 123(2) of the Representation of People Act. The petitioner argued that these freebies were in the form of gratification to the electorate, inducing them to vote for the Congress candidate.
“The five guarantees are the corrupt practices amounting to bribery and also undue influence under section 123(2) of the Representation of People Act. The said guarantees are in the nature of offer and promises made by the candidate and by the Indian National Congress party. They are in the form of gratification to the electorate of Varuna constituency and with the object of directly inducing the electorate to vote for the congress party candidate—Siddaramaiah,” the petition reads.
The petitioner argued that the government’s policies contravene the directive principles of state policy (DPSP) and sought that CM Siddaramaiah’s election is rendered void. The petitioner also seeks that the Karnataka CM is disbarred from contesting elections for six years for contravening the provisions of the Act and the Constitution of India.
Congress’ Freebies in Karnataka
The ‘Gruha Jyothi’ freebie offers free to all households up to 200 units per month. The number of units has been computed as 10 per cent above the average household consumption. It was reported that the State government has allocated about Rs 9,000 crores for the scheme.
Furthermore, the Congress’ ‘Gruha Lakshmi’ scheme offers Rs 2,000 per month – Rs 1,000 towards inflation, Rs 500 towards gas cylinders and Rs 500 towards GST relief – to every woman household head. The government has allocated staggering Rs 17,500 crores for the scheme, reportedly.
The ‘Anna Bhagya’ scheme offers a free supply of 10 kgs of rice per head per month to all BPL card holders, of which, 5 kgs are currently supplied by the Government of India under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) of 2013. As per reports, the Congress government allocated about Rs 10,265 crores for the scheme.
The Congress’ ‘Shakthi’ scheme offers free bus travel for all women in ordinary and non-luxury express KSRTC buses across Karnataka. Notably, Congress’ decision to provide free bus travel to all women has drawn flak as revenues for autorickshaw drivers have seen a reduction. It was reported that the government has allocated about Rs 2,800 crores for the scheme.
The ‘Yuva Nidhi’ scheme is an unemployment assistance provided to graduate and diploma unemployed youth. Under this scheme, the graduate unemployed youth would receive Rs 3,000 per month, whereas unemployed diploma holders would receive Rs 1,500 per month for two years.