Amid ‘PayCM’ campaign, Karnataka CMO-endorsed ‘No Need to Bribe Me’ backfires

ByBellie Thomas

Published Sep 28, 2022 | 9:00 AMUpdatedSep 28, 2022 | 9:00 AM

CM Bommai at the council

Even before the Congress’ “PayCM” campaign in Karnataka could quieten down, an official letter from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) is taking its place.

Marred by allegations of corruption, Basavaraj Bommai’s government has endorsed a campaign asking government officers to display a board that reads: “Nobody needs to bribe me. I won’t become a corrupt officer.”

A letter by the chief minister’s principal secretary to the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR) seeking the next course of action for an anti-corruption awareness drive in government offices has boomeranged.

If the BJP government was attempting to offset the damaging campaign by the Congress and counter the public perception of corruption with this move, it backfired.

What did Bommai’s office try to do?

In a letter dated 23 September, the chief minister’s Principal Secretary N Manjunath Prasad endorsed a campaign proposed by NGOs.

The NGOs — Citizen Enquiry Council and CEC Trust — had asked for the anti-graft slogan to be displayed on the name boards of each official under their respective names and designations outside their office.

According to Manjunath Prasad’s letter to DPAR, it was supposed to be an 18-day campaign starting from 2 October, Gandhi Jayanti.

“Their proposal letter is self-explanatory, and it is attached with this brief which has been sent to you for further action,” Prasad’s letter to DPAR reads.

Masterstroke or miscalculation?

The note from Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Manjunath Prasad's office to DPAR for 'further action'.

The brief from Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, N Manjunath Prasad to DPAR for ‘further action’.

Already grasping at straws to counter the Congress’ campaigns like “PayCM” and “40% commission government”, the Bommai government has been hit by the recoil of this campaign even before it took off.

“This particular campaign of ‘Nobody needs to bribe me. I won’t become a corrupt officer’ on nameplates proves that they have accepted that they were being corrupt. We have passed on our message to the BJP party workers that this campaign should not restrict itself only to government officials, but also to all MLAs, MPs and ministers in their party who should put it up both in Kannada and English before their chambers,” Ramalinga Reddy, working president of the Karnataka Congress, told South First.

He also pointed out that the campaign, if implemented, would make a laughing stock out of the BJP and its government in Karnataka.

“This campaign initiative is coming directly from the CMO, not some regular office. The chief minister has made this recommendation on the basis of some NGOs’ proposal. So, will they now be non-corrupt till 20 October and then revert to being corrupt? This is the BJP being nervous and scared over our PayCM campaign,” Priyank Kharge, chairman of Congress Communication Cell, told South First.

‘Every government has some level of corruption’

Defending the government’s move, BJP spokesperson Captain Ganesh Karnik told South First: “Corruption has been an issue concerning a common man, but this is being brought up with a dirty campaign by the Congress party who have stooped down to a level resorting to directly attack the office of the chief minister himself. Every government has some level of corruption, we know that it’s an issue.”

The senior party spokesperson added that the initiative was to counter corrupt practices in government offices.

“The BJP looks at this issue in a different, positive way. We need to create awareness among people and create a responsible mechanism which instils confidence among people in us. We have to look beyond the so-called menace and come over it. We commend the CM’s efforts in this campaign and wish him success with this,” he added.