The Karnataka Congress on Monday inducted controversial businessman and Bidar South MLA, Ashok Kheny into the party. This move also included merging the latter’s five year old Kannada Makkala Paksha (KMP) with the Congress. The main motive to inculcate him in the party is aimed to try and help Congress’ fortunes in all the six assembly constituencies of the state’s Bidar district.
Kheny is a promoter of Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE) famously known for constructing a ring road around Bangalore, and has been accused of various wrongdoings during his business career. As reported, he has been accused of grabbing farm land for his road project and even allegedly diverted land for private illegal townships around the Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises (NICE) Road.
Other reports have alleged that charges of forgery, murder and cheating have been levelled against him. It has been estimated that over 500 cases have been filed against him. He is also known to file contempt cases against journalists who questioned on these cases. One journalist at the receiving end of his ire was Times Now Mumbai bureau chief Megha Prasad, who had levelled allegations of cash for vote against him. Kheny allegedly used “bad language” against Prasad while she was questioning him regarding the matter.
This induction of Kheny in Congress becomes ironic after considering that it was the Siddaramaiah government which had constituted a joint legislative committee to probe allegations of irregularities against his company. This was followed with a recommendation made about a year ago for the initiation of criminal action.
This induction has resulted in a mixed response within the Congress, which includes many party legislators and workers taking to the streets to protest against this move. It has also been reported that party functionaries are also planning on approaching the Delhi high command to lodge their disapproval. Some of the leaders opposing him include ST Somashekar, Munirathna, Basavaraj and virtually all the party leaders from Bidar.
Apart from creating a hostile environment within the party, Kheny’s inclusion has also provided ammo to the BJP:
Ashok Kheny, who was accused of land grabbing along Mysuru-Bengaluru Highway, was to be jailed by Karnataka CM @siddaramaiah. Instead he has been taken into the Congress. This proves what PM @narendramodi Ji had said i.e. @siddaramaiah govt is a #SeedaRupaiyaSarkar (1/3)
— Prakash Javadekar (@PrakashJavdekar) March 6, 2018
Besides HRD Minister Javadekar, the party’s state establishment trained guns on the Congress by alleging that only looters and the corrupt can find a place in the party.