Exhorbitant fee prohibits poor aspirants from contesting

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Bangalore, Mar 31 (UNI) The non-refundable 'hefty' application fee imposed by the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) to those wishing to contest the forthcoming Assembly elections on party ticket has 'dampened the spirit' of loyal parties, especially in the rural areas.

The party's decision yesterday to charge Rs 10,000 as application fee has dealt a blow to those living below poverty line (BPL) aspiring to contest and win a seat. '' With this decision, we can't even dream of being anywhere near the political process,'' lamented a grassroot level worker in front of the party office.

The high power committee meeting was held in the presence of AICC observer in charge of party affairs Prithviraj Chavan and state Party Chief Mallikarjuna Kharge fixed the amount after detailed discussion. Mr Chavan also directed the district party units to receive applications before April 4 and forward them to the KPCC.

The aspiring contestants were required to pay the application fee through Bank's Demand Draft as cheques would not be accepted.

Bheemappa Dodmani, a Congress worker from Gulbarga district, reacting over the party's decision, wondered how a BPL worker could aspire to contest an election on Congress symbol, while he was not sure of getting his next meal in the day.

However, Mr Kharge, defending the decision said that the fee was now reduced to Rs 10,000 from Rs 15,000 during the last Assembly elections.

During the 2004 elections, the then KPCC president Janardhana Poojary had fixed Rs 15,000 as application fee for general category candidates and Rs 5000 for candidates belonging to the SC, ST and women candidates. The party had received as many as 1,800 applications along with the application fee which was non-refundable for 224 seats.

No other political partie, including the Samajawadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Janata Dal(S) had plans, as of now, to collect such a fee from aspiring candidates for the Assembly polls on the respective party symbols.

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