AICC General Secretary KC Venugopal caught on camera inside the KPCC office with a rowdy-sheeter created a stir. Venugopal has been in Bengaluru to discuss candidates list for the upcoming by-polls in Karnataka and met, amongst others, Ishtiaq Ahmed alias Pailwan, who is the husband of BBMP Shivajinagar ward councillor Fareeda Ishtiaq.
In July earlier this year, Ahmed was arrested by the SIT probing I Monetary Advisory (IMA) for allegedly receiving ₹2 crores from the prime accused in the case, Mohammed Mansoor Khan. Ahmed’s name was also linked to another multi-crore scam, Ambident, although he was not arrested in the case. In November 2018, the CCB police in Bengaluru had detained Ishtiaq Ahmed accusing him of extorting protection money from hotel owners in Shivajinagar. This after several hotel and restaurant owners had filed complaints against Ahmed for forcing them to pay hefty sums in return for ‘protection’.
Rizwan Arshad, Member of the Karnataka Legislative Council, who hopes to secure the Congress ticket, was also seen in the same frame as KC Venugopal and Ishtiaq Ahmed. Sources in KPCC claim that it was Rizwan who brought the rowdy sheeter inside the Congress office to lobby for a ticket. Shortly after the video of Venugopal and Ishtiaq meet went viral, photographs of the rowdy sheeter with former CM Siddaramaiah also surfaced. Sources claim that the photographs were from just last week when Ishtiaq met him to congratulate and facilitate Siddaramiah for having been named the leader of the opposition.
The Congress party came out in defence of Venugopal after the video stirred a hornet’s nest. KPCC president Dinesh Gundurao, speaking to the media said, "Several people met KC Venugopal during meetings, this controversy is an attempt to defame him. Some of Ishtiaq’s cases have been dropped already, I don't mean that he no longer has cases against him." Admitting that he too has met Ishtiaq, Gundurao said, "Not just Venugopal but even Siddaramiah and I have met him several times. He has taken part in many of our meetings as he belongs to our party, his wife is a corporator from Congress."
Former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah too brazed it out, claiming Venugopal was unaware that Ishtiaq was a rowdy sheeter. Speaking to reporters in Delhi, Siddaramiah said, "What can Venugopal do if he comes to meet him during discussions? Ishtiaq’s wife is a corporator. Could Venugopal throw him out by the neck if he appears in front of him? If we had given him a position in the party, it is then wrong, nothing wrong with what happened today." Winning the Shivajinagar assembly seat has become a prestige battle for the Congress after its former MLA Roshan Baig not just resigned from his position but also had called senior leaders of the party, including KC Venugopal, uncharitable names.