High fee 'dampened the spirit' of contesting

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Bangalore, May 31: The non refundable 'hefty' application fee imposed by the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee to those aspirants wish to contest from the party in the next Assembly elections has 'dampened the spirit' of loyal parties especially in rural areas.

The party's decision yesterday to impose Rs 10,000 as application fee has dealt a blow to those living below poverty line whose life ambition was to contest and win the 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 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 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 can a worker belonging to a BPL section could aspire to contest election on Congress symbol, while he was not sure of getting next meal in the day. The poor people, majority of them, were the traditional supporters of Congress remains to be satisfied as voters of the party and could not even dream to contest elections, he contended.

However, Mr Kharge, defending the decision said that the amount of fee was reduced to Rs 10000 now as against Rs 15000 collected during last assembly elections.

During 2004 elections the then KPCC president Janardhana Poojary had fixed Rs 15000 as application fee for general category candidates while Rs 5000 for candidates belonging to SC, ST and Women. The party had received as many as 1800 applications along with the application fee which was non-refundable for 224 seats.

No other political parties including Samajawadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Janata Dal(S) had plans, as of now, to impose such a fee to their aspiring candidates to contest the assembly poll on the respective party symbols.

UNI

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