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‘PayCM’ posters in Bengaluru against CM Bommai: Cops arrest two Congress workers

Posters featuring CM Bommai’s face and a QR code linked to the Congress anti-corruption campaign website have surfaced in parts of Bengaluru.

A day after posters captioned “PayCM” plastered across Bengaluru on Tuesday September 20 caught the eyeballs, two Congress party workers were arrested for posting them. The posters featured a photograph of Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and a QR code leading to the Congress party’s anti-corruption campaign website. Police sources told IANS that the two arrested were attached to the social media wing of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC). Those arrested were identified as BR Naidu, former Social Media Chairman of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) and Gagan Yadav, a resident of KR Puram in Bengaluru who is also believed to be a social media contact for the party.

The Congress workers were reportedly arrested at their homes by police in the early hours of Thursday, around 2 a.m. The High Grounds and Sadashivanagar Police carried out separate operations and nabbed members of the Congress social media team following CM Bommai’s instructions to open the investigation in this regard, according to IANS. Shortly after the posters surfaced on Tuesday, Bengaluru Police Commissioner Pratap Reddy said an FIR (First Information Report) had been registered under various sections of the Open Places Act of Karnataka (prevention of disfigurement) and that an investigation was ongoing.

The QR code on the posters, designed to resemble the logo of digital payment app Paytm, led to the Congress campaign website Congress launched the website earlier on September 13 with the slogan “40% sarkara, BJP stands for brashtachara”, referring to the alleged 40% commission rate that contractors would be forced to pay as bribes to officials of the BJP government in Karnataka. The site claims to “expose BJP corruption”.

The ruling BJP and Congress had started a poster war of similar QR codes to trade corruption charges against each other. The Opposition Congress first came up with the idea by displaying the “PayCM” posters, and the ruling BJP later responded with QR code posters featuring opposition leader Siddaramaiah and Congress President of State DK Shivakumar on Wednesday.

Authorities had urged Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) personnel services to remove the posters from walls and other establishments in Bengaluru. Responding to a question about the “PayCM” campaign, CM Bommai said he had ordered an investigation into the matter to find out who was behind it. “Anyone can do it with a motive. People will understand, they don’t stick,” he said. “It is not about my image, they are trying to tarnish the image of the state and that is why action would be taken against them,” he added.

Meanwhile, reacting to the arrests, Karnataka Congress Speaker DK Shivakumar told the media on Thursday: “Because of this 40% commission government, Congress leaders like Siddaramaiah, BK Hariprasad and I have launched a country. Based on the media reports and the government “rate card” published in the media, it is true that we have launched the PayCM campaign. He added that the anti-corruption campaign sparked a huge backlash from people, with around 8,000 people filing a complaint alleging they were also being forced to pay a commission.

“After that, we posted the QR codes with the photos of the chief minister on the front page of Prajavani (a Kannada daily). If we have done anything wrong, let them do any investigation on us, or whatever they want,” DK Shivakumar said. He added that lawmakers and congressional leaders will further intensify the poster campaign.

Last week, several billboards were also put up in parts of Telangana alleging that there is a “40% commission government” in Karnataka, alluding to corruption allegations against the BJP government in the state. CM Bommai called them a “systematic conspiracy”.


Posters with CM Bommai’s face and a QR code pasted in Bengaluru by Congress

Telangana billboards over ‘40% sarkara’ in Karnataka a plot: Bommai

With IANS entries