Bengaluru: When Veerappa Moily speaks, the whole of Karnataka listens in rapt attention for this scholarly politician has earned a lot of respect across political lines for his comments on vital issues. So when a tweet appeared late night on Thursday on what is said to be his Twitter handle, it raised eyebrows, for it directly accused a trusted aide of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah - PWD Minister Dr H.C. Mahadevappa-of being part of a ‘nexus’ involving road contractors ahead of the Assembly elections!
Mr Moily, who is the Congress party's manifesto committee chairman, allegedly tweeted, "INC needs to solve money in politics. We can't afford to have road contractors and their nexus with the state PWD minister determine how candidates are selected for the upcoming Assembly elections."
Interestingly, the same tweet has been posted on Moily's son Harsha's unverified Twitter handle too. The former Union Minister however told reporters in New Delhi that it was a tweet sent by somebody else, and that he had nothing to do with it. Sources close to the developments said however that the tweet followed a falling out between the senior leaders over denying Harsha Moily a chance to stand for elections from the Karkala constituency.
The ruling Congress has landed in an embarrassing situation after former CM Veerappa Moily reportedly tweeted claiming a nexus between PWD Minister Dr HC Mahadevappa and road contractors ahead of the Assembly polls, which would influence candidate selection.
Mr Moily has already denied the tweet saying, “That Twitter account is not in my control. It's not an appropriate tweet. I'm withdrawing it.” Asked if his Twitter account was hacked, the former Union Minister said, “I won't say that but even then it's not proper. It's unfortunate. It shouldn't have come. I haven't done it. Somebody else has done it. I don't want to go public on party matters.”
Asked whether any action would be initiated against those who played ‘mischief’ with his twitter handle, Moily said he didn't want to make any further statement. “Forget the matter,” was all he would say.
As for the man in the middle of the controversy, PWD Minister H.C. Mahadevappa, a close confidante of Siddaramaiah he remained confined to his official residence in Bengaluru, though most of his party leaders flew to Delhi to attend the AICC plenary session. When prodded by the media, Dr Mahadevappa said he did not have any information about it. “I don't know social media, hence I don't know about tweets. Someone told me about such a tweet, after that Mr Moily has said that he has not tweeted, this is what I know, the rest you have to ask him,” he said cryptically andy added, “Mr Moily is our senior leader. I am in no way connected with Moily's tweet.”
Attempts by Congress leaders like KPCC working president Dinesh Gundu Rao and KPCC president Dr G. Parameshwar to douse the flames did not succeed entirely. Mr Rao’s reaction was again on social media: “Moily has retracted his statement, but most unfortunate comments on PWD Minister Dr HC Mahadevappa as he has done excellent work in building road infrastructure in Karnataka. One of our best performing ministers.”
Dr Parameshwar sought to reiterate that Mr Moily had distanced himself from the tweet and in any case, there is a specific long-drawn-out process of identifying candidates for the Assembly elections – one that involves going through many levels of screening through many committees. The process has just begun this week.
He added that a 47-member committee scrutinises the list with three names for each constituency. The list is later referred to the screening committee of the AICC. “The 16-member central election committee will finalise the list. So, where is the question of money changing hands? Mr Moily has maintained that it is not his tweet. We may have to refer this to the cyber crime department. BJP's allegations are baseless,” the KPCC president reacted.
The fact that the tweet had not been deleted despite Mr Moily’s statement has led some leaders to question if this was a ploy to set the cat among the pigeons and later deny it by saying his account was hacked.
This is not the first time a senior Congress leader in the state has raised the issue of corruption and money power at work during the selection of candidates. Mr Moily’s remarks, which come on the eve of the AICC Plenary, are strikingly similar to the allegations levelled by another Congress leader Margaret Alva six months after the Assembly elections in 2008. She had alleged that election tickets were for up for sale when her son Nivedith and another senior leader Jaffer Sharief’s son were denied tickets. She had questioned if there were different rules for different people? “Are they terrorists or smugglers,” Ms Alva had asked at that time....