Posts Tagged ‘Lok Ayukta’

If children play with note counting machines…

28 January 2013

The residence and offices of Karnataka BJP leader K.S. Eshwarappa were raided by the Lok Ayukta recently, acting on a complaint of “assets disproporation to the known sources of income”. Besides obnoxious amounts of gold and silver that is the new-normal, among the items seized was a currency note counting machine which he claimed was being used as a “toy” by children in the house.

Saritha Rai writes in the Indian Express:

A currency machine now appears to be a badge of honour amongst the corrupt across India.

Madhu Koda, the former chief minister from Jharkhand who became notorious for his money-laundering scam, was discovered to be a millionaire with business interests in far-flung countries like Liberia and Laos. In the stash discovered in Koda’s home were five currency counting machines.

Such machines were reportedly found in the home of Ashok Jadeja, Ahmedabad-based conman and fake guru who defrauded thousands in a money-multiplier scheme. A Madhya Pradesh doctor couple in government service was found with huge amounts of unaccounted cash and a currency counting machine a few months ago.

Possessing a currency counting machine is not illegal in India. But the recent discoveries suggest that illegal cash transactions are so massive that physical counting is impractical and machines are being brought in. These days corruption cases anyway involve tens of crores of rupees, if not hundreds.

It is becoming routine for corrupt politicians and bureaucrats to have a currency counting machine besides documents, cash and jewelry, said Justice Santosh Hegde, former Karnataka Lokayukta and an anti-corruption crusader.

“Bribes are mostly received in cash and this indicates the volume of unaccounted money sloshing about in the financial system,” said Justice Hegde.

Read the full column: Industry of ill-gotten gains

Five questions for L.K. Advani and Arun Jaitley

24 February 2012

His mouth already full, metaphorically speaking, former chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa lunges for a plate of chakkuli and kodebale from the next table, at a meeting of leaders and legislators at his residence in Bangalore on Thursday.

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Who exactly is ruling Karnataka right now?

Exhibit A: The Mahatma Gandhi national rural employment guarantee scheme (MGNREGS) guarantees  employment in rural areas. Of the Rs 2,153 crore approved in the budget, districts in Karnataka have spent only Rs 1,265 crore—58% of the allocated funds—despite severe drought.

Exhibit B: Studies have shown 37% of children are underweight, about 28% are undernourished, and 5.5% of children die of hunger before they reach five years. Prevalence of malnutrition in Karnataka in Raichur and other districts has reached epic proportions.

Exhibit C: The process of naming a Lok Ayukta to replace Justice Santosh Hegde is still going on months after he remitted office, even  as minister after minister or official or other is caught every now and then with mind-boggling income totally unrelated to his / her income.

Exhibit D: The ‘blue babies’, the 3 MLAs  who were watching porn material while the legislative assembly session was on have already shamed the party, on top of all those caught in similar misdemeanours.

These are only few examples.

Despite all these major problems confronting the State and the ruling party, the only issue the BJP MLAs and BJP ministers seem to be interested in is: when will D.V. Sadananda Gowda pack up and go leaving the seat for B.S. Yediyurappa?

For this, dinner meetings spending lakhs of rupees are held,  the ex-CM dashes in and out of either Benares or Vaishnodevi, burning tax-payers’ money as if he is just taking a stroll from his bed-room to drawing room. The Veerashaiva swamijis, who are ready to jump into this any time, have become willing partners in this plot.

Confabulations are held in resort after resort, plans are afoot to unseat the CM by hook or crook.

Here are five key questions:

1) Why are sanctimonious BJP and RSS leaders tolerating such natak from its political actors in Karnataka, week after week, month after month?

2) Why is BJP president Nitin Gadkari putting up with such an audacious and brazen lust for power, giving room for suspicion?

3) Now there seems to be a plan to bring in Jagadish Shettar, a Lingayat, to replace D.V. Sadananda Gowda, a vokkaliga, becasue Yediyurappa cannot become CM immediately. How can the BJP make such casteist moves so openly?

4) Why is the central BJP allowing the authority of present chief minister to be so openly eroded?After all they nominated him for the post after all sorts of discussions and he is the elected leader of the legislature party.

5) Why are leaders like the former future prime minister of India L.K. Advani and the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley mum on the subject? Can they unseat a CM and replace him with another against whom cases are still pending, no matter how much he hankers for the post?

BJP will again become a laughing stock if they bring back Yediyurappa due to coercion, religious and caste politics.  The cases against him are still on and he has not been declared innocent. He is only out on bail.

Meanwhile, let the administration be damned in the State.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Will BJP win Karnataka again?

How BJP turned Karnataka politics into a cartoon

Raichur, malnutrition deaths and BJP ‘governance’

Yella OK, guru. Nanna makkalu is not learning

CHURUMURI POLL: Should S.M. Krishna resign?

8 December 2011

As the nation’s external affairs minister, Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna knows that it is a small world he lords over—what goes around, comes around. So just months after he threatened to sue The Times of India, Bangalore, for suggesting that he was involved in the illegal mining scam comes news that he has indeed been named in a first information report (FIR) for issuance of mining licences during his tenure as the chief minister of Karnataka.

With all the faux sophistication he can muster, S.M. Krishna denies the charge. But for a Union government that is  trying to stave off a crisis involving another minister (P. Chidambaram) whom his detractors have tried to implicate in the 2G scam, the naming of Krishna comes at a particularly inopportune time. Krishna, for his part, says his “legal team” will take appropriate action at the appropriate time, but the Opposition has smelt blood.

With B.S. Yediyurappa having had to resign in the wake of the Lok Ayukta indictment in the mining scam, and having had to spend a fortnight in the cooler on the basis of a “private complaint”, the question is going to asked, why should not Krishna resign till he is proven innocent? Will Krishna’s protestations of no loss to the government, or no gains for himself, convince the BJP? Is a private compliant all it takes to bring people in power down?

And, tongue firmly in cheek, if Krishna quits, who is going to read the Portuguese speeches for the UPA?

Also read: Just one question I’m dying to ask S.M. Krishna

Our Man from Maddur is shorter than you think

CHURUMURI POLL: Will S.M. Krishna last his term?

Who is this man who has S.M. Krishna‘s left ear?

Can Maddur vade usher in peace in the subcontinent?

Because, well, the s**t has hit the ceiling fan

21 November 2011

The BJP’s disgraceful tandav with democracy in Karnataka is coming full circle in Bellary. It was from the mineral-rich district that the party’s ascent towards power and the State’s descent towards anarchy began in 1999, when Sushma Swaraj rode on the shoulders of the Reddy brothers to take on Sonia Gandhi in the Lok Sabha elections.

A week is a long time in politics; a decade is an eon.

Now Sushma Swaraj has washed her hands off the Reddy brothers. One of the Reddy brothers is in jail. B.S. Yediyurappa, who owed his chief ministerial position to the brothers’ “purchasing power”, has just about managed to come out of it here. The rape of the mines has come to a pause after the Lok Ayukta report.

And the Reddy brothers have declared revolt.

Their Man Friday, B. Sriramulu, who quit the legislative assembly after new chief minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda would not accommodate him in the cabinet, has quit the BJP, necessitating a poll. And he is now standing as an independent candidate, ranged against the very party he and his benefactors propped up with their dirty money.

As if to show that the ore has hit the roof, the Election Commission has allotted Sriramulu a ceiling fan as his election symbol. Which is held up like an exhaust fan behind him by an aide as he addresses a street-corner meeting, on Monday. Meanwhile, as Yediyurappa prepares to campaign against him (and the Reddy brothers), the tandav continues.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Long arm of law catches up with a desh-bhakt

15 October 2011

Nothing—not the permanent vermilion mark on his forehead; not the myriad visits to temples and mutts; not the prostration before swamijis and godmen; not the advice of astrologers and numerologists; not the maata-mantra; nothing—could eventually save former Karnataka chief minister, B.S. Yediyurappa, from the clutches of man-made law.

Here, after the Lok Ayukta special court rejected his bail plea and issued an arrest warrant in connection with the corruption cases registered against him for illegally denotifying land in and around Bangalore, the ex-CM leaves the court premises in Bangalore on Saturday with a wry smile.

The court sent him to judicial custody till October 22.

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News

Plus: The best pictures of Yediyurappa on planet earth

***

Also read: Do Yeddi & Co have no faith in State temples?

Should netas swear before god in secular India?

How the BJP raised witchcraft to statecraft

Do our gods sanction our politicians’ silly games?

Is Janardhana seve Janata seve in Kumaraswamy book?

CHURUMURI POLL: Black magic in Silicon Halli?

What the stars foretell for our avivekanandas

A property broker with a Vidhana Soudha address

15 October 2011

Former muzrai (religious endowment) minister S.N. Krishnaiah Shetty, who collapsed in the Lok Ayukta court on Saturday, after special court judge N.K. Sudhindra Rao directed his arrest, being carried to an ambulance.

Shetty had to quit the B.S. Yediyurappa cabinet last year, following charges of his involvement in a scam in which land procured cheaply from farmers by a firm associated with him was resold to the Karnataka housing board (KHB) at a premium.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

The real hero of Yedi’s downfall: Kumaraswamy?

30 July 2011

One day he says he will “resign”; the next day his eyeballs glower in defiance. One day he is a “disciplined soldier of the party”; the next day he is a potential rebel. One day he says he built the party over 40 years; the next day he assembles scores of them in an open show of numbers.

And so goes on the disgraceful tragic-comedy of the party with a difference, even as a totally compromised “high command” that willingly turned a blind eye to the rampant corruption, casteism and destruction of the State’s fair name tries to assert its authority (before Parliament opens).

While B.S. Yediyurappa hangs on to his chair like dear life, a piece of furniture outside Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore shows where those who lose it could end up, on the cobbled tiles by the wayside.

***

While everyone is singing hosannas in praise of the Lok Ayukta, Justice N. Santosh Hegde, for finally bringing Yediyurappa to book, Saritha Rai doffs her hat to an unlikely figure, H.D. Kumaraswamy, in the Indian Express:

“In the noise surrounding the Lok Ayukta mining probe and Yediyurappa’s fall, what is forgotten is that the chief minister was not felled by one report. Rather, his defence was slowly but surely chipped away by a series of scathing attacks — led almost single-handedly by none other than his predecessor and one-time political ally H.D. Kumaraswamy.

“The mining report has singed Kumaraswamy too, but the Janata Dal (Secular) will still be celebrating the end of a successful ouster campaign…. During the course of his political career, Kumaraswamy has become adept at pulling the carpet from under his rivals’ feet; first the Congress and its chief minister Dharam Singh’s, and later the BJP and B.S. Yediyurappa’s….

“A confrontational Kumaraswamy, who only seems to get bolder and more aggressive with time, has relegated the Congress in Karnataka to the background. His father H.D. Deve Gowda may have branded himself “mannina maga” (son of the soil). His rivals may be wily and shrewd. But with his bulldog-like persistence, it is the opportunist Kumaraswamy who has ensured that he will be the reckoning factor in Karnataka politics.”

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Read the full article: Karnataka’s real showman

The best Yediyurappa pictures on Planet Earth

29 July 2011

Forty-six months ago, in October 2007, churumuri.com began curating pictures of B.S. Yediyurappa with an outstanding KPN picture (left) during a protest in front of the Raj Bhavan after “the worst betrayal ever” by the JDS, in denying him the chief ministership as per the 20-20 agreement between the two parties.

Thirty-two pictures later, the day after forcing him to step down in the illegal mining scam in 2011, Yediyurappa’s bugbear, Lok Ayukta Justice N. Santosh Hegde, strikes a near-identical pose while clambering upon on to the stage for a meet-the-press programme at the Press Club of Bangalore on Friday.

Also seen in the picture are PCB president M.A. Ponnappa (extreme left), and Sadashiv Shenoy (right).

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News

***

The complete B.S. Yediyurappa photo portfolio

1) Is it an idol? Is it a statue? Is it a mannequin?

2) One leg in the chair, two eyes on the chair

3) Yedi, steady, go: all the gods must be crazy

4) Kissa Karnataka chief minister’s kursi ka: Part IV

5) Why did the chief minister cross the road divider?

6) Sometimes you are up, sometimes you are down

7) Dressed to thrill: Yedi-Chini bhai bhai in Shanghai

8) Survival of fittest is a great photo opportunity

9) Drought relief one day, flood relief the next

10) How a chief minister should drink tea. (Or not.)

11) Let the rebels know, the CM will not bow one inch

12) Even four pairs of hands can’t stave off the flak

13) Yediyurappa regime slips into yet another sandal

14) Behind every successful cyclist, there are a few men

15) Life’s a cycle. What goes up must come down.

16) A leg up for the one is a leg up for the other

17) The emperor’s new clothes has a loose button

18) Why does this poor, selfless soldier cry so much?

19) The great Indian rope trick adds inches to a giant

20) Even Alan Donald would quiver at such a glare

21) One sanna step for man, one giant leap for anna

22) A party of loafers, thieves, liars and land-grabbers

23)hree years in power = three rings, or is it four?

24) Say hello to the sarsanghchalak of the ‘ling parivar’

25) Why you didn’t this picture in today’s papers

26) Across, the line, feet wide apart, head still high

27) A matador takes the bulls by their horns (almost)

28) Relax, it’s not the dress code for namma Metro

29) And how a famous head looks after the ’2G’ scam

30) Oh fish! How he feels for the poor animal’s plight

31) Every good picture is worth a 1,000 volts

32) More proof that it will take a lot to get him down

From entry to exit, superstitious at every step

29 July 2011

This is the typewritten press release that was sent by the media advisor to the Karnataka chief minister, R.P. Jagadeesh, around midnight last night, announcing B.S. Yediyurappa‘s stand after the BJP parliamentary board directed him to “resign immediately” following the strictures of the Lok Ayukta, Justice Santosh Hegde, in the Rs 16,000 crore illegal mining scam.

For an overly devout CM belonging to God’s Own Party—who had a near-permanent vermilion mark soldered into his forehead; who spent a substantial part of his tenure in visits to temples and mutts near and far; who was scarily afraid of the dangers posed by maata-mantra to his (and his government’s) longevity; and who even invited his arch-rival to swear before “God” at a temple to prove his innocence—Yediyurappa’s letter can be “Exhibit A”.

Also read: Do Yeddi & Co have no faith in State temples?

Should netas swear before god in secular India?

How the BJP raised witchcraft to statecraft

Do our gods sanction our politicians’ silly games?

Is Janardhana seve Janata seve in Kumaraswamy book?

CHURUMURI POLL: Black magic in Silicon Halli?

What the stars foretell for our avivekanandas

And what happens to the indicted IAS officers?

28 July 2011

B.S. Yediyurappa is on his way out after the clamour following the Lok Ayukta report, and so will the politicians who have been named alongside him: G. Karunakara Reddy, G. Janardhana Reddy, B. Sriramulu and V. Somanna. On the Congress side, too, Anil Lad will be expected to show some repentence.

Say what you will of our politicians—they may be crooked, corrupt, criminal, whatever—but eventually in the temple of democracy, they pay a price for their transgressions.

Kicking and screaming, they step down, but at least they step down, before they are thrown out at the hustings. But what about the fatted cows of the bureaucracy—the “officers” lording over everything they survey—who aid, abet and do their master’s bidding while partaking of the loot, and still go on as if nothing happened?

Justice Santosh Hegde and his men have found 787 government officials, from clerks to Indian administrative service and Indian forest service officers, who had their hand in the Rs 16,000 crore mining scam that has spelt disgrace for Karnataka’s politics and environment for years now.

What about them?

And what about the industries and industrialists, like the Jindals, who were party to the daylight loot?

Cartoons: courtesy R. Prasad/ Mail Today, Surendra/ The Hindu

Do Lingayats blindly support the BJP en masse?

25 July 2011

B.S. Yediyurappa has returned from the pristine sands of Mauritius to the urban jungle of Bangalore, only to say the most predictable thing with the most predictable scowl: that he will not, repeat not resign from the post of chief minister merely because some silly Lok Ayukta has shown his hand to be full of dirt and grease and slush.

With that, the Lok Ayukta, Justice Nitte Santosh Hedge, joins a long and continuing list of worthies whose efforts to show that the CM of a once-progressive State is himself upto no good, has come to nought. For the moment, of course.

How does Yediyurappa brazen it out time after time?

How does his party find him beyond reproach?

Indeed, how do the people forgive him so easily?

The hot money has been on “Lingayats”. Lingayats, so the conventional wisdom goes, were maha-miffed with the Congress for the kind of treated out to Lingayat chief ministers such as Veerendra Patil (who was unceremoniously given the marching orders by Rajiv Gandhi).

That the credit of winning over Lingayats to the BJP en bloc goes to Yediyurappa. That without their support (and that of the Brahmins), the BJP would have never come to power. That it is Yediyurappa who has turned Lingayats into a potent political force a la Vokkaligas. That the Lingayat mutts hold the key to the Lingayat voting mind.

In short, if he is thrown out, despite all this muck, the BJP will meet the same fate as the Congress. Etcetera.

Really?

James Manor of the school of south Asian study (SOAS) of the University of London, wrote these paragraphs in an article titled “The trouble with Yeddyurappa” in the Economic & Political Weekly three months ago:

“The chief minister often tells national leaders that his fellow Lingayats give the party an unassailable base. Those leaders, from northern and western India, do not understand that this is untrue. Lingayats account for only 15.3% of the State’s population as a survey by Sandeep Shastri (based on the third backward classes commission report of Chinnappa Reddy, 1990) points out.

“And even in areas where they are concentrated, many years have passed since they could influence other groups’ voting decisions. Devaraj Urs brought the non-dominant majority into play as a politically sophisticated force in the 1970s, and since then, caste hierarchies have lost much of their potency in rural areas.

“The BJP’s national leaders fail to recognise that when Lingayat chief ministers like S.R. Bommai after 1988 and Veerendra Patil in the early 1990s favoured their caste fellows excessively, as Yeddyurappa has done, the other groups have combined against them. Inclusive, diverse social coalitions have always been needed, since Urs, to win State elections.

“The national leaders also apparently fail to grasp that the BJP’s modest “success” in the recent panchayat elections—which Yeddyurappa has used to justify his continuance in power—actually entailed significant declines in the party’s vote share in several key sub-regions since the 2008 State election (at which the BJP failed to win a majority of seats).

“Most of those lost votes occurred among non-Lingayats, despite the BJP spending on the panchayat elections being much greater than that by rival parties. Crudely speaking, non-Lingayats have tended to combine in support of the Congress in most of northern Karnataka, and in support of the Janata Dal-Secular in most of southern Karnataka.”

Read the full article: The trouble with Yeddyurappa

Link via Prithvi Datta Chandra Shobhi

File photograph: Chief minister B.S.Yediyurappa at the 104th birth anniversary of former deputy prime minister  Babu Jagjivan Ram, at the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore in April (Karnataka Photo News)

Also read: Chetan Bhagat has some advice for Lingayats

Has the BJP lost all sense of shame in Karnataka?

Has the BJP lost all sense of shame in Karnataka?

23 July 2011

If a photograph is worth a thousand metaphors, this is it.

On the face of it, the cranes, the excavators and the barricades show the backbending work on the Bangalore Metro project that is going on quietly, relentlessly even while Bangaloreans blissfully whiz past it, unaware of the extent of the sweat and toil.

If you look at this picture differently, the mounds of soil, the deep trenches and the slush show how the mining scam is now at the doorstep of the temple of our democracy, the Vidhana Soudha, even while Kannadigas blissfully ignore its lasting damage.

The rape of the environment in Bellary, the role of the Reddys and other politicians in the loot, a complicit chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa (and a former CM H.D. Kumaraswamy), the shameless bid by BJP leaders such as Dhananjay Kumar to influence the Lok Ayukta to spare the CM, Justice Santosh Hegde‘s phone being tapped, an impotent BJP high command….

Nothing, it seems, shakes or shocks the Kannadiga any more as he sits down to watch his favourite murder-rape-kidnap megaserial after hogging a single idli-vade-sambar at the local darshini.

That is, after visiting his nearest mutt.

Which is why, perhaps, the tower named after a Kannadiga of unquestionable rectitude—Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya—seems to be hiding itself behind a christmas tree in shame and embarrassment, unable to watch what seems to be going on in the name of god’s work.

At the hands of god’s own party.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

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The Namma Metro photo portfolio

Why on earth does Bangalore Metro look so ugly?

If only someone could do this to save our State

“No free left” for residents of a famous highrise

Remember the helmets when it rains (or shines)

At Anil Kumble circle, a sharp googly to KSCA

In the darkness of night, a ray of light at 19:12:30 hours

The biggest day in the history of Bangalore?

Do not try this at home (if you have a few bogies)

From the BEML end, right arm over the wicket

The giant violin-box hanging above ‘Parades’

It’s still not here, but it’s already kind of here

Yes, it’s for real, and it’s purple and off-white

4 cars, 3 SUVs, 8 bikes, and 16 autorickshaws

Oh God, what have they done to my M.G. Road

Saturdays, girlfriends, popcorn and other memories

Every picture tells a tale. Babu‘s can fill a tome.

Not a picture that will make it to Lonely Planet

Amar, Akbar, Antony. Or Ram, Robert, Rahim

Only a low-angle shot can convey its great girth

Lots of work overground for an underground rail

The unsung heroes in the dreams of Bangaloreans

On top down under, a tale of a work in progress

Let a thousand Anna Hazares bloom across India

8 April 2011

MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN writes from Hubli: The fast-unto-death by the social activist Anna Hazare in New Delhi and the nationwide support it has elicited for cleansing the system, has enormous relevance to Karnataka especially in the present context, where the air is thick corruption.

One thing is clear. Politicians, cutting across party lines, are opposed to any measure to rein in corruption in public life. They have successfully evolved ways and means to torpedo any such attempts, or to emasculate the system which is put into operation, to ensure a free run for themselves.

While New Delhi has a history of dragging its feet on the Lokpal bill in general and on the question of bringing the Prime Minister under its purview in particular, Bangalore has a track record of dragging its feet on the question of strengthening the hands of Lok Ayukta with suo motu powers to investigate charges of corruption.

***

The common thread that runs in the attitudes of the central and State governments towards corruption, is the marked reluctance on the part of the the political parties, be it of Congress or non-Congress hues, including the BJP, to hold the bull by horns.

The intention is very clear: they don’t want to create any fetters which come in the way of their untrammelled enjoyment of power.

At the Centre, the main question which has been endlessly debated is whether the PM should be brought under the purview of the Lokpal bill, in whatever form it may be brought in.

The solution was/is simple: Had those who held the high august office voluntarily declared that they would subject themselves to the jurisdiction of the Lokpal, the matter could have been resolved in a jiffy and a suitable law could have found a place in the statute books.

But none of the worthies, from Indira Gandhi to Manmohan Singh, and including Rajiv Gandhi, Narasimha Rao, Atal Behari Vajpayee, Deve Gowda, and Chandrasekhar, could volunteer to suggest that persons holding high office should not only be honest but appear to be honest too.

For all of them, the authority and status of the PM’s office appeared more important than the need for probity in public life. It is the cumulative mess created by the Cassandras of corruption, which has resulted in the 2G spectrum scam, which has made the current Prime Minister squirm in his seat.

Manmohan Singh’s image as a clean and honest politician has taken a severe beating. He has paid a big price for his  vacillation.

If the prime minister of the country is unwilling to lead from the front in the fight against the corruption, how do you expect the lower minions in the political hierarchy like the chief ministers and the State governments down the line to act otherwise?

If  the President of the United States, Richard Nixon, could be investigated for the Watergate scandal, or the high and mighty be proceeded against for tax evasion in America, it does not stand to reason as to why the busy  bodies in India tht is Bharat should be placed above the law.

***

In Karnataka, there is a twist in the tale.

Since 1984, there has been a law and an institution to fight corruption. But it has been deliberately made ineffective. The Lok Ayukta has not been given suo motu powers to initiate action.  Such powers given when the Act was enacted by the Ramakrishna Hegde government, were subsequently withdrawn two years later for reasons not clear.

The Lok Ayukta, as an institution, was almost unknown (and unseen) for nearly one-and-a-half decades after its inception. The first time it caught the public imagination was when Justice N. Venkatachala, who was appointed during the S.M. Krishna regime in 2001,  became proactive in the discharge of his duties.

It was Justice Venkatachala who focussed attention on the lacunae in the law and took them up with the government. For all the sound and fury, his five-year term ended without his dream of the grant of suo motu powers being realised.

His successor, Justice N. Santosh Hegde, too has vigorously pursued the pending issue with the government, even going so far as to submit his resignation in the period. His five-year tenure is coming to an end in a couple of months and like his predecessor he has to retire with a feeling that the government ignored his plea.

None of the governments that have held office during the period of the present and previous Lok Ayukta have been able to restore the suo motu powers to the Lok Ayukta, which is a felt need.

And these include, the Congress government led by Krishna, the Congress-JDS coalitions headed by Dharam Singh, the  BJP-JDS coalition headed by H.D. Kumaraswamy and the present BJP government headed by B.S. Yediyurappa, which has been in office from 2008.

The message is quite clear: none of them is keen on doing it despite the public protestation of their commitment to fight corruption.

The Upa Lok Ayukta enjoys suo motu powers, which can be exercised over the lower echelons of the administration. The other higher-ups do not come under its purview. More often than not, the post is kept vacant.

When Venkatachala, started exercising the powers of the Upa Lok Ayukta in his crusade against corruption, the government woke up after a long gap to and felt the need to fill the vacancy. This was done more with the intention of reining in Justice Venkatachala than to strengthen the functioning.

But much to the chagrin of those who had planned the move, the new Upa Lok Ayukta Justice Patri Basangowda proved to be a good foil rather than hindrance to Justice Venkatachala. After Mr Patri Basangowda retired the post in 2009,   the post has remained vacant.

The absence of suo motu powers has not been the only problem faced by the Lok Ayuktas in Karnataka, who have taken their job seriously. The government of the day has been blutning the efficacy of the institution and efforts put in by it, to trap cases possession of assets disproportionate to the known source of income.

In some cases, the officers trapped remain without being suspended and some of them have been quite powerful enough to wangle promotions and get good posting too. The government deliberately delays the question of granting permission for the Lok Ayukta to prosecute officers who have been nabbed.

The list of the governments acts of sins of omission and commission is quite lengthy.

***

A major development, which has occurred during the BJP government. stressing the imperative necessity of strengthening the Lok Ayukta, has been the surge of the scams.

The most important one has been the one pertaining to the illegal mining of iron ore, involving powerful politicians, in and out of office. The report given by the Lok Ayukta, which probed the matter, has been gathering dust.  The report has been relied upon by the Supreme Court but has not opened the eyes of the State government.

The inference is quite clear. But for the Supreme Court’s persistence in a case before it at present, the controversy over the illegal mining in Karnataka would have been pushed under the rug.

The second development is the scam over the denotification of the land, which during recent years has been openly regarded as a money spinner for politicians in power.

Going by the open charges being hurled it looks as if this has taken place one way or the either during the regime of almost all the CMs especially in the last one-and-a-half decades. A powerful minister of the BJP government has also been caught in the act. And chief minister Yediyurappa and his bete noire Kumaraswamy have been openly trading charges against each other.

Had a person like Anna Hazare been here, perhaps Karnataka would have witnessed the kind of  uproar that one is witnessing in Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.

Cartoon: courtesy Keshav/ The Hindu

Also read: ‘BJP’s lotus grows in muck, so do BJP’s people’

CHURUMURI POLL: India’s most corrupt State?

Why has corruption become such a small issue?

GOOD NEWS: Karnataka beats AP, TN, Kerala

How China changed the politics of Karnataka

CHURUMURI POLL: Karnataka, Bihar of the South?

 

The stunning moral collapse of BJP in Karnataka

24 January 2011

The hi-decibel war-of-swear-words between the governor of Karnataka, H.R. Bharadwaj, and the chief minister, B.S. Yediyurappa, over the issue of the former’s go-ahead for the latter’s prosecution on corruption charges, has played out on expected lines. (So far.)

Lost in the thickets of ideology, party affiliation, and mutual name-calling and finger-wagging, is the life-source of a functioning democracy: political morality, both as a virtue to practise and as an ideal to pursue.

Dinesh Amin Mattu, associate editor of the Kannada daily Praja Vani, makes a much-required intervention in today’s paper on how the BJP has squandered the high moral ground. Translated from the original Kannada by Prithvi Datta Chandra Shobhi, and reproduced here in full with the permission of the publishers.

***

By DINESH AMIN MATTU

Hansraj Bharadwaj, the governor of Karnataka, may have committed a hundred-and-one sins in his prior political life. Every time the Indira Gandhi family was in trouble, the ever-loyal Bharadwaj may have dutifully trodded on a path, legitimate and illegitimate, to save his masters.

After coming to the State, he may not have missed any opportunity to criticise the BJP government. His frequent loose talk may also not have been appropriate for the high office of governor. Despite all this, can we conclude that all the decisions taken by him are ‘tainted’?

This, indeed, is the claim of the chief Minister, B.S.Yediyurappa, and the BJP leaders. Their constant refrain is that the “governor is a ‘Congress Agent’ and therefore his decisions are not to be honoured.”

How the ruling party has arrived at the ‘Congress Agent’ charge, we do not know. But if Bharadwaj becomes a ‘Congress Agent’ simply because he was a member of the Congress party, then are all the governors who were appointed by the BJP-led NDA during its six-year regime ‘BJP Agents’?

Wasn’t Bharadwaj appointed to the governorship because he has all the qualifications that the Constitution stipulates? If there have been any errors committed on that front, surely the BJP leaders could have brought them to the attention of the President. But no one seems to have done that.

Political parties raise objections about governors only when they are in the opposition. When in power, they do not hesitate to use the same office for political benefit.

The Sarkaria commission has made detailed recommendations on the eligibility and appointment procedures for governors. Why didn’t Arun Jaitley, who lectures now on the office of the governor, implement these recommendations when he was the Union law minister?

In independent India, disputes concerning the office of governor, painting them as  them as villains, have emerged largely in three situations. First, while deciding on who has the majority after an election. Second, while a political party seeks to prove its majority during a ‘no-confidence’ motion. Third, when a government isn’t allegedly functioning as per the Constitution.

All these three contexts have given birth to several political crises, which have found their way to the courts. The main reason for this is the lack clarity in the Constitution itself with respect to the role of the governor during the above mentioned situations.

Article 164 of the Constitution states that the (chief) ‘minister shall hold office during the pleasure of the governor’. According to Article 356, the governor may dismiss a government whose functioning is unconstitutional. In shot, the governor will have to take these decisions using his discretion.

Generally whenever discretionary power is used, individual interests are the determining factors and since the political party at the Centre will take a decision ultimately, these decisions lead to political disputes. However, whenever it has appeared as if the governor’s decisions have violated the constitutional framework, then the Supreme Court has intervened and provided relief.

However, the present political crisis in Karnataka hasn’t come about because of any the three political situations outlined above.

Using the right to information (RTI) Act, two lawyers have collected evidence on the corruption charges against the chief minister. They have presented that evidence to the governor and sought permission to prosecute him as per the the provisions of the prevention of corruption Act, 1988.

In cases such as this, if the governor can verify the truthfulness of the evidence, within the limits of the powers of his office, and if he is convinced that there is some truth to the charges, then he may allow for the prosecution of the chief minister. This power is given to the governor by the Constitution and Bharadwaj has used it.

Therefore, the governor cannot be charged with either the misuse of his powers or of breaking the law.

Yes, the governor could have rejected the plea of the two lawyers. But the Constitution does not require the governor to reject such an appeal nor does it say that the governor does not have the power to approve the appeal to prosecute. Therefore, it is clear that the governor has functioned within the framework of the Constitution.

If he has violated the law, then there is the Supreme Court to question his conduct. Why do we need all these allegations, abuse, protests and the bandh?

There are other reasons for the governor to justify his decision. This isn’t the first time there are allegations against the chief minister. The Lok Ayukta and the Padmaraj commission, which has been appointed by the government itself, have already been inquiring into several of these allegations.

Even the State Cabinet resolution, which demanded that the governor not permit the filing of a criminal case against the chief minister, cites these inquiries. If there was no truth in any of these allegations, why would the Lok Ayukta initiate an inquiry? Why would even the State government appoint a commission to inquire into these allegations?

Yediyurappa makes two allegations in order to justify himself: that the governor is behaving like an agent of the opposition parties, and that the opposition parties too have committed similar transgressions when they were in power.

In one sense, Yediyurappa is right. He truly hasn’t done what his predecessors haven’t done beforer. But how will the corruption of opponents justify one’s own corruption? Yediyurappa, who occupies a responsible office such as the chief ministership, should clarify which court will accept that argument. He doesn’t seem to realize this allegation could be used against him as well.

If the previous governments had been corrupt and had escaped being prosecuted, then wouldn’t the Opposition parties be responsible for that? What will Yediyurappa’s response be if he is asked about his own dereliction of duty as the leader of the opposition party in the legislative assemby?

BJP leaders also ask why a third inquiry when two institutions (Lok Ayukta and the Padmaraj Commission) are already seized of the matter. But isn’t this something that the BJP government itself started? Didn’t the BJP government think it was improper when it appointed the Padmaraj commission to investigate those cases which were being looked into by the Lok Ayukta without even bringing it to his notice?

Chief Minister Yediyurappa is truly in a bind now. The noose of three different inquiries has enveloped him. There aren’t too many choices to retain power. He may survive for a while through protests, bandhs and allegations against the governor. But he will not complete his term by resorting to these strategies.

The situation is getting out of hand.

Political games may have no rules but within the parliamentary democratic system, the game will be played within the framework of the Constitution and there, one will have to abide by the rules. If not then, one will have to leave the field.

Unfortunately Yediyurappa has himself created such as situation.

Yediyurappa may try to retain his office by claiming that he is innocent until proven guilty. Legally, a chief minister need not resign simply because of allegations or inquiries. However, how will BJP turn its back to the moral question since it has always been talking about a different kind of political idealism?

When confronted with similar accusations, the Congress party sent home many of its leaders, from Natwar Singh to Ashok Chavan. Now, how will the BJP face the Congress with this black mark?

The present-day BJP leaders have forgotten that their own leader L.K. Advani resigned as the leader of the opposition leader because letters resembling his name appeared in a Jainhawala case diary.

What a stunning moral collapse/ decline of the Bharatiya Janata Party!

Photographs: (top) BJP leaders led by L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Ananth Kumar and Venkaiah Naidu emerging out of Rashtrapati Bhavan after petitioning the President of India, Pratibha Patil, on the conduct of governor, H.R. Bharadwaj, in New Delhi on Monday (Karnataka Information department photo); author photograph, courtesy Praja Vani.

Also read: How the BJP completely lost the plot in Karnataka

Getaway of the louts in the gateway to the South

‘BJP’s lotus grows in muck, so do BJP people’

Why Karnataka politics has reached this sad state

Why is Yediyurappa taking on the Lok Ayukta?

29 November 2010

MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN writes from Hubli: Poor Yediyurappa, a victim of his own habits.

The Karnataka chief minister is impulsive in his reactions, a habit which he has carried from his days as the chief of the state BJP unit and leader of the opposition in the State assembly.

He often puts his foot into his mouth and has a penchant for making promises, with no thought whatsoever of redeeming them. He is liberal with both.

These have often dragged him into a quagmire of controversies needlessly.

The latest one to surface has been the one in which he has pitted himself with the Karnataka Lok Ayukta, Justice Santosh Hegde, over the propriety of the State government in constituting a judicial commission to go into the land denotification issue when the matter is already pending with Lok Ayukta.

From all points of view, this was an avoidable controversy. Only some time ago, Yediyurappa had achieved a tenuous  peace when Hegde had put in his papers, dissatisfied as he was with the manner in which the State government was hedging the demand for the grant of the suo motu powers of  investigation into the cases of corruption.

(Under the present rules, the Lok Ayukta can only act on the basis of a written complaint and in the absence of the same, he can’t proceed in the matter.)

In view of the public outcry over the episode, Yediyurappa had to seek the intervention of the BJP’s higher-ups, including the patriarch L.K. Advani in making Justice Hegde relent. Justice Hegde was promised that the needful action would be taken to meet his demand. But this hardly materialised in the days that followed.

What has happened is that the government has only met the demand halfway, leaving the main question unresolved.

It does not stand to reason why the Karnataka chief minister should open another flank for a fight, when he had won a reprieve by a whisker as it were from the party high command which wanted to give him the marching orders.

It has opened the raw wound of uneasy relations between the government and the Lok Ayukta at a time when the issue had almost gone out of the memory of the people.

One may concede that the decision to go in for judicial commission was an impulsive reaction from Yediyurappa in the light of the torrent of land denotification scandals involving his kith and kin which had prompted the high command to think in terms of asking him to quit. But the subsequent events have proved that it is a deliberate action.

In an unusual reaction, the State government seeks the status report from the Lok Ayukta on all the matters entrusted to it for enquiry, while the State government is known to be sitting over the reports already sent by Lok Ayukta, thus coming in the way of the enquiry reaching the logical end.

Not only those, BJP legislators have been let loose on the Lok Ayukta, with one of them demanding an apology from him to the CM and threatening to organise a demonstration in front of his office if it wasn’t forthcoming.  The action smacks of attitude of the political vengeance, which is uncalled for since the Lok Ayukta is not a political office.

It is not clear what Yediyurappa wants to achieve by this kind of action. One plausible explanation could be that he would like to complicate the matter by having parallel enquiry by two separate agencies, and create a legal conundrum to delay the process of enquiry one way or other.

Yediyurappa in his wisdom genuinely believed that the judicial enquiry would serve the ends more than the one conducted by the Lok Ayukta, nothing prevented him from having informal consultation to avoid any acrimony or needless controversy.

That Justice Hegde has been hurt very much by diatribe opened by the government is evident from his strong reaction.  Hegde, who is otherwise quite restrained and balanced in his remarks,  made an emotional remark that if the government so desired, it could abolish the Lok Ayukta by repealing the law.

Yediyurappa and his cohorts should understand that Lok Ayukta today enjoys better credibility than the BJP government and this is the one controversy they could have avoided on the eve of an electoral challenge in the form of the panchayat elections next month.

The inimical attitude towards the Lok Ayukta inherent in the State government’s action and observations cannot be hidden by any explanation made on behalf of the government. Moreover, there is hardly anything that government gains politically by throwing innuendos against the style of the working of Lok Ayukta.

Also read: ‘BJP’s lotus grows in muck; so do its people’

6+1 questions after the return of Justice Santosh Hegde

‘In Ram Rajya, hamaam mein sab nange hain

Getaway of the Louts in the Gateway to the South

CHURUMURI POLL: Dismiss BJP govt in Karnataka?

GOOD NEWS: Karnataka beats AP, TN, Kerala

How China changed the politics of Karnataka

How the BJP completely lost the plot in Karnataka

In Karnataka Political League, Vision Twenty20

5 October 2010

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: I saw the Ace Political Expert (APE) emerge from the M. Chinnaswamy stadium after the finals of the Karnataka Premier League (KPL).

As we sat down for a late-night coffee, APE deeply engrossed in thought.

“Are you still thinking about the topsy-turvy finals and the way it ended?” I asked.

Illa kano, Ramu. No, not about the finals. I was wondering about the similarities between KPL and the Karnataka government.”

APE is known to come out with some of the weirdest, bewildering theories which have proved to be correct in hindsight. Still to link Karnataka Premier League with the Karnataka Political League seemed a hopeless case.

APE took a sip of the espresso.

“Years ago, JDS and BJP came together and made an agreement in which candidates from both parties would share the chief ministership for 20 months each. A JDS  man was to rule the State for the first 20 months and ‘retire’ and for the balance 20 months, a  BJP man would sit on the CM’s gaddi. This was hailed as a “20-20” government. That’s how H.D. Kumaraswamy became CM. Before the ink was dry on B.S. Yediyurappa’s oath, he was out hit wicket and the government came tumbling down.”

After another sip, APE continued: “KPL was started last year on the lines of IPL. It is all about scoring as many runs as possible in 20 overs. It means you have to take calculated risks as you go along and in the process of scoring runs fast, you may lose wickets.”

“But how is it related to the Karnataka government..?” I asked.

“Simple. Some people in the government see their tenure like Twenty20 batsmen. They see it as an opportunity to amass as many runs as possible as quickly as possible.”

“Runs?”

“Don’t be daft, Ramu. Runs in single-quotes. They feel ‘runs’ are important no matter how it comes; through paddle-sweeps, Dil Scoops, switch hits, reverse sweeps, upper cut etc. While playing such risky shots for quick ‘runs’, batsmen get out and suddenly from no loss, half the side is back in the pavilion.”

“Agreed. That happens.”

“Suddenly there is the spectre of losing all the wickets in less than 20 overs.”

“True, that too happens,”  still clueless at what APE was driving at.

“Due to rain or bad weather if the match is  reduced to only 10 overs, there aren’t many overs left and sometimes there aren’t enough ‘runs’ on the board for the team either.”

I was losing patience.

“That happens in a rain-affected match. But how is it connected with the Karnataka government?”

“See the number of wickets that’s falling in the Karnataka government? Right from first over they are losing wickets at regular intervals. Each one is trying to score ‘runs’ very fast, recklessly, sometimes throwing caution to the wind.”

“I still don’t get it.”

“They are getting out trying to score a sixer of every ball. Glory shots! Nobody is dropping anchor or playing a defensive shot. All they want are only  sixers and fours off every ball.”

“Will you tell me what’s going on here?” I demanded.

“Elementary, Ramanna. Can’t you see? If most of the batsmen, sorry if most of the ministers, start wildly swinging the bat hoping to get a  sixer off every ball, a clever captain like Santosh Hegde will keep a silly mid-on and a deep square-leg  and try to get a batsman out either miscuing or hooking the ball too early. That is what happened to Katta Jagadish Naidu though he was not an original member of the team. He was caught on the boundary line by a substitute fielder.”

“Oh, I see!”

Ramchandre Gowda’s department tried to fix the scoring pattern like Pakistan batsmen did in their ODI in England, for  recruitments in medical colleges and was caught on the wrong foot. Hartaalu Halappa returned to the went to pavilion, retired hurt, and never came back with a new body guard to bat again! Instead he got himself admitted to a hospital.”

“Oh! That’s what it is!”

“At this rate the CM may run out of partners. He is also wildly swinging with his son’s bat and I am not sure if it is a standard genuine bat or made of material not allowed by ICC er, Santosh Hegde.  It looks CM too may get out before he runs out of partners.”

APE’s analogy seemed to make some sense.

“I think the CM should slow down and play out the remaining overs without taking undue risks,” advised APE before he got up.

‘BJP’s lotus grows in muck, so do BJP’s people’

5 July 2010

Justice N. Santosh Hegde, the Lok Ayukta of Karnataka who has returned to office kicking and screaming after being persuaded by the “former future prime minister of India“, Shri Lalchand Kishinchand Advani, has penned a “rare first person account” in the latest issue of Tehelka magazine, about his battle against illegal mining and the plot to make him quit.

The penultimate paragraph has these priceless words.

“If I have to sympathise with any party, it would have to be the BJP because my father was a vice-president of the BJP in his last days. I represented L.K. Advani and Atal Bihari Vajpayee when they were imprisoned here (in Bangalore) during the Emergency.

“But honesty prevails today.

“I have no political sympathies or favourites.

“The BJP symbol, the lotus, grows in muck. I have to believe now that the people of BJP also come from muck. Apart from wanting to continue as chief minister, this person [B.S. Yediyurappa] seeks the support of affluent people and I am not sure if he is uninterested in the mining transactions.”

Before the backpedalling begins, a brief message from Claud Cockburn: “Never believe anything until it is officially denied.”

Screenshot: courtesy Tehelka

Read the full article: ‘I think the end has come’

Also read6+1 questions after the return of Justice Santosh Hegde

‘In Ram Rajya, hamaam mein sab nange hain

Getaway of the Louts in the Gateway to the South

CHURUMURI POLL: Dismiss BJP govt in Karnataka?

GOOD NEWS: Karnataka beats AP, TN, Kerala

How China changed the politics of Karnataka

How the BJP completely lost the plot in Karnataka

6 + 1 questions after the return of Santosh Hegde

4 July 2010

The Karnataka Lok Ayukta, Justice N. Santosh Hegde‘s decision to withdraw his resignation will surprise a few and not surprise those whose literature major was drama.

But his invocation of the “former future prime minister of India”, L.K. Advani—”he is like my father” just two days after he had stated that “he will not influence me“—as justification for his move is sure to spark a few questions:

1) Like, despite his public protestations, is chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa entirely happy with Justice Hegde’s decision to stay back? After all, it was he who had thanked Justice Hegde for his services without even going through the courtesy of requesting him to continue in office for fear of embarrassing him, and wasn’t even inclined to meet him?

2) Like, despite its contempt for the high command-driven politics of the Congress, is the BJP too firmly in its grip? After all, it took the persuasive powers of Sushma Swaraj to put an end to the last rebellion of the Reddy brothers last November after every other method had failed. And now, the “former future prime minister of India” has had to step in to resolve a State issue.

3) Like, despite his decision to quit as BJP president, is L.K. Advani still running the party, be it in putting up Ram Jethmalani as a party candidate for the Rajya Sabha polls, wooing back Jaswant Singh, cosying up to Uma Bharti, and now in intervening in l’affaire Hegde? And is the RSS entirely happy with his enhanced role, or is this an admission that its candidate Nitin Gadkari has  flopped?

4) Like, given Justice Hegde’s earlier resolve to quit come hell or high water, are we to assume from the trajectory of his return that the “former future prime minister of India” is more powerful than the chief minister and his colleagues, former chief minister S.M. Krishna, governor H.R. Bharadwaj and Union home minister P. Chidambaram, all of whom tried to woo him back but in vain?

5) Will Justice Hegde get another term as Lok Ayukta or will he remit office as scheduled later this year? Either way, will he share the dais with politicians after saying that he did not trust them, and that there were only three-and-a-half honest ministers in Yediyurappa’s team?

6) Who will emerge stronger from this episode? Justice Hegde or Yediyurappa or the Reddy brothers? Will Justice Hegde getting the backing and cooperation he is seeking, or will he find that he will be found dispensable after the storm subsides? Will the Reddy brothers raise a fresh banner of revolt if the heat gets to them?

Bonus question: Like, where do all those who insinuated that Justice Santosh Hegde was acting at the behest of the Congress in resigning on the eve of the BJP government’s’ sadhana samavesha and making charges of corruption, stand now that he is back at the behest of the “former future prime minister of India”?

Photograph: Karnataka Lok Ayukta Justice N. Santosh Hegde along with BJP national president Nitin Gadkari and chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa at his residence in Bangalore on Saturday. ( Karnataka Photo News)

Also read: ‘In Ram Rajya, hamaam mein sab nange hain

Getaway of the Louts in the Gateway to the South

CHURUMURI POLL: Dismiss BJP govt in Karnataka?

GOOD NEWS: Karnataka beats AP, TN, Kerala

How China changed the politics of Karnataka

How the BJP completely lost the plot in Karnataka

In ‘Ram Rajya’, hamaam mein sab nange hain

1 July 2010

Justice Nanje Gowda Venkatachala and Justice Nitte Santosh Hegde. Both former judges at the Supreme Court of India. Both Lok Ayuktas of Karnataka, under four different chief ministers; the former cleaning the augean stables loudly in front of TV cameras; the other less visibly but more effectively.

On paper, the two “could have transformed Karnataka and set an example for a cleaner, more honest India, whose official motto, inscribed below the national coat of arms, is ‘Satyameva jayate’ (Truth alone prevails),” writes Samar Halarnkar in the Hindustan Times.

In reality, though:

“For years, successive Congress chief ministers [S.M. Krishna and Dharam Singh], and the Janata Dal (S) of former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda [through son H.D. Kumaraswamy], ran administrations that ensured only deceit and dishonesty prevailed in Karnataka.

“Given its pledges of delivering a righteous Ram rajya, the BJP was the great political hope against corruption. That hope even led Justice Venkatachala to the BJP in February 2009. “You need political will to fight corruption,” Venkatachala had said then. “Such political will is there in the BJP.”

“Instead, the BJP has joined in the plunder of what was once India’s metropolis of the future. Crooked politicians and bureaucrats drive SUVs and own multiple mansions and businesses, as corruption worsens, the city crumbles, and the revelry begins over Justice Hegde’s impending departure.”

Read the full article: Those tears of doom

Also read: Getaway of the Louts in the Gateway to the South

CHURUMURI POLL: Dismiss BJP govt in Karnataka?

Why has corruption become such a small issue?

GOOD NEWS: Karnataka beats AP, TN, Kerala

How China changed the politics of Karnataka

CHURUMURI POLL: Karnataka, Bihar of the South?

CHURUMURI POLL: India’s most corrupt CM?

How the BJP completely lost the plot in Karnataka

CHURUMURI POLL: Dismiss BJP govt in Karnataka?

28 June 2010

Normal human beings can’t hide a simple secret.

How on earth do the abnormal human beings who now lord over the state of Karnataka hide 5 lakh tonnes of illegally mined iron ore without anybody noticing? How on earth do they manage to transport 25,000 to 40,000 truck loads of such ore—worth between Rs 150 and Rs 250 crore—across various jurisdictions in 400-500 trucks a day, for months, without anybody noticing?

How on earth do the abnormal human beings manage to illegally export Rs 1,200 crore (or more) of iron ore from the State’s ports over a year, and fabricate 41 gunny sacks of forged permits, without anybody noticing? How on earth can the confiscated ore suddenly “disappear” without anybody noticing?

How on earth can this daylight loot—of the State’s resources, of the State’s environment, of the State’s reputation as a civilised law-abiding State—go on without causing anger and outrage, unless ideology has made us abnormal too and inured us to sleaze and corruption of mind-numbing proporations?

Has law and order completely broken down in Karnataka?

Is the State fit for the imposition of Article 356?

BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, blesses State ministers B. Sriramulu (left) and Gali Janardhan Reddy in Bellary in January 2009. It was Swaraj's election against campaign against Sonia Gandhi in Bellary in 1999 that brought legitimacy to the Reddy brothers.

***

Editorial in The Indian Express titled ‘Contempt of Port’:

“It’s already become clear that Karnataka politics has become deeply compromised by interests vested in the mining economy…. B.S. Yediyurappa himself appears to have made little attempt to follow up on the former Lok Ayukta N. Santosh Hegde’s complaints….

“The state’s politics, particularly that of the ruling BJP, has been deeply influenced by the power of those, especially the Reddy brothers, who run the iron ore mines of Bellary. Karnataka’s government cannot afford to continue to show itself unable to clean house. The open contempt for legality visible at Bellikeri port is extremely disturbing.”

Editorial in Mail Today titled ‘Government of plunderers’:

“The decision of Karnataka’s Lok Ayukta Justice N. Santosh Hegde to resign from his post is a damning indictment of the BJP regime in Karnataka. Justice Hedge’s complaints are a comment on how partisan interests are guiding the functioning of the Karnataka government.

“This episode reiterates two vital issues. One, the mining lobby led by the Reddy brothers, who are ministers in the Yediyurrappa government, continues with its operations, robbing the state of valuable natural resources and damaging the environment.

“Two, as Justice Hegde’s case makes evident, the office of the Lok Ayukta in the states where it exists is unable to live up to its mandate on account of lack of adequate powers and its dependence on the state government on crucial matters.”

Also read: Why has corruption become such a small issue?

GOOD NEWS: Karnataka beats AP, TN, Kerala

How China changed the politics of Karnataka

CHURUMURI POLL: Karnataka, Bihar of the South?

When did a Rs 10 crore bribe stop moving us?

CHURUMURI POLL: India’s most corrupt CM?

How the BJP completely lost the plot in Karnataka

Those who live by the Reddys shall die by them

The lessons from Justice Hegde & Justice Hegde

Two lessons from Justice Hegde & Justice Hegde

25 June 2010

With a 90-minute press conference bringing to nought the tens of crores being squandered in advertising the “sadhane” (achievements) of the two-year-old B.S. Yediyurappa government, the paid pipers of the BJP are back at what they do best: shooting the messenger, attributing motives, and slapping their thighs without a hint of remorse.

Without bothering to be bothered about the core issue: the brazen sleaze and corruption—cutting across gender, party, ideology, age, religion—that tests the trust and faith of the common man in the democratic system, and in the seriousness of those he has elected to at least put up a pretence of putting an end to it.

But the motives and motivations of Justice Nitte Santosh Hegde, who has cast the first stone, is not to be sniffed at; his pedigree not to be piffled with. Justice Hegde draws inspiration from Justice Hegde, his father Justice Kowdoor Sadananda Hegde. One took on the Congress, the other took on the BJP.

***

From Business Standard:

“Justice N. Santosh Hegde, till this week the Lok Ayukta of Karnataka, a former Supreme Court judge and the son of the famous late Justice K.S. Hegde—who resigned from the Supreme Court of India in protest against his supersession by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, contributing to events that culminated in her imposition of national Emergency—has spoken for millions of concerned citizens across the country by quitting his post….

“Hegde’s resignation does not herald his entry into politics. He scoffs at such suggestions. His wife Sharada (who is a Punjabi grown up in Karnataka) and he have no children. He lives simply, has a flat in Bangalore and an ancestral home in Mangalore. He often talks about his mother Meenakshi, who greatly influenced his life. She was responsible for imbuing her children with values of humaneness.

“His father K.S. Hegde, who was also Speaker of Lok Sabha between 1977 and 1980, had made it clear to his children that while they would get the best education possible, making something of themselves was up to them — they would get no help from their father.

“But what Hegde has in common with his father is a sense of justice and an abiding commitment to principle. The senior Justice Hegde had resigned from the Supreme Court, the junior one, too, quit the government because he was not allowed to work.”

Read the full stories: here and here

Links via Gouri Satya

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

***

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: India’s most corrupt State?

Why has corruption become such a small issue?

GOOD NEWS: Karnataka beats AP, TN, Kerala

How China changed the politics of Karnataka

CHURUMURI POLL: Karnataka, Bihar of the South?

CHURUMURI POLL: India’s most corrupt state?

24 June 2010

The Lok Ayukta of Karnataka, Justice N. Santosh Hegde, has provided an appropriate curtain-raiser to the “Sadhane Samavesha” (convention of achievements) of the two-year-old BJP government in Karnataka by shining a grim light on the dark and devious role being played by B.S. Yediyurappa‘s regime in shielding the corrupt.

Justice Hegde has exposed the BJP government’s efforts to thwart his efforts to catch the corrupt; he has shown how corrupt officials were reinstated despite the cheif minister’s assurances; he has thrown light on how 5,00,000 tonnes of iron ore transported illegally from Bellary and seized by forest authorities “disappeared”. Etcetera.

Simply put, Justice Hegde has shown how the Yediyurappa dispensation which takes the high moral road in public takes a low immoral one in private. At another level, the charges are more proof of why Karnataka continues to to the corruption charts. Naturally, political motives are being attributed to the timing of the Lok Ayukta’s resignation as indeed the revelations made by him.

Questions: In his lust for office, is B.S. Yediyurappa shielding the corrupt? Or is this nothing compared to the corruption of the Congress and JDS? Is this more proof that BJP is no different from the Congress? More to the point, looking at the kind of headlines Karnataka is making, is namma cheluva naadu, India’s most corrupt State?

Also read: Why has corruption become such a small issue?

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When did a Rs 10 crore bribe stop moving us?

CHURUMURI POLL: India’s most corrupt CM?

How the BJP completely lost the plot in Karnataka

Those who live by the Reddys shall die by them

Those who live by the Reddys shall die by them

4 November 2009

KPN photo

MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN writes from Hubli: If Karnataka Chief Minister, B.S. Yediyurappa, finds himself in the vortex of an ugly political row triggered off by the challenge to his leadership by his onetime confidants turned political rivals, the Reddy brothers, he has none to blame but himself.

Because….

Because it was he and his party, which discovered the Reddy brothers, nurtured them and used them as convenient tools for achieving their political objective/s.  And, in the process, gave on a platter the political standing, name and respectability to the Reddys.

When the magic figure of 113 eluded the BJP in 2008 assembly elections, Yediyurappa and others in the party tacitly backed and blessed “Operation Kamala”, the code name for enlisting the support of independents and enticing Opposition legislators to get the needed majority.

This operation achieved two objectives. It helped the BJP to achieve its dream of forming the first saffron government south of the Vindhyas. And it helped Yediyurappa to realise his life’s ambition of becoming the chief minister of the State.

It is an open secret that the operation was entirely scripted, financed and executed by the Reddys.

For the favours received, the party obliged the Reddys in myriad ways. Yediyurappa went literally out of the way   accommodate all sorts of demands of the Reddys.

For example:

1. The entire mining policy of the State government was shaped to suit the interests of the Reddys, who, as the new mining barons, had an enormous stake in mining and export of iron ore in the areas bordering Bellary and Anantapur districts of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, respectively.

2. The Yediyurappa government chose to turn a blind eye to the allegation that the Reddys were involved in illegal mining activities in the border areas of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, and that their mines in the adjacent Anantapur district, had encroached on the mining areas of Karnataka.

3. And the report submitted by the Lok Ayukta, N. Santosh Hegde, which at the express desire of the government had gone into illegal mining activities in Bellary, gave a graphic and well documented account of the same, was soft peddled deliberately.

The Reddys were recipients of endless political favours too from the BJP.

This was something akin to “you ask it, you shall have it” situation.

The Reddy group comprising the two brothers, Gali Karunakar Reddy and Gali Janardhan Reddy, and their partners in arm, B. Sriramulu, all from Bellary, were accommodated in the BJP cabinet, the highest representation given to any district in the BJP ministry.

The pathetic cperformanance of Sriramulu as the health minister when the State was hit by the swine flu menace, and the response of Karunakar Reddy when the State reeled under the impact of the unprecedented flood situation was lackadaisical, was ignored.

In addition, a third member of the Reddy clan, Gali Somasekhar Reddy, virtually forced a reluctant chief minister to concede the post of the chairmanship of the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF), which the latter had reserved for the state BJP president, D.V. Sadananda Gowda.

The government rode the hobby horse of Janaradhan Reddy, who desired to have a third airport of doubtful utility and viability in Bellary at a time when the two existing airports including a private one, did not have enough traffic. Ignoring the protests by the farmers, the government  initiated the process of acquiring fertile, irrigated land.

It looked as if the Yediyurappa government was not averse to mortgaging the entire State if need be to suit the  whims  and fancies of the Reddys. As a result, the Reddys, who had become a law unto themselves, were allowed to turn their home-district of Bellary into a personal fiefdom, where no officer who crossed swords with them, was allowed to last.

In trying to appease the  Reddys, Yediyurappa had no compunction in ruffling the feathers of quite a few of his partymen including the ministers, legislators and others.

Basking under the aura of media glory, Yediyurappa turned the BJP rule in Karnataka into a one-man rule and ushered in an administration where he alone mattered and his cabinet colleagues were reduced virtually to the status of  nonentities if not rubber stamps.

Barring a coterie of junior ministers, who always hovered around him, the rest were completely ignored.

Perhaps where Yediyurappa and the national leaders of the BJP misread the designs of Reddys was in underestimating their burning political ambitions, which was on the rise and of which clear indications were available nearly a year ago, when the Reddys openly declared that they were eying for the coveted post of the Chief Minister.

Yediyurappa’s realisation that the Reddys had grown too big for their shoes perhaps came too late in the day.

Suddenly, it dawned on the incumbent chief minister that the Reddys no longer were no longer amenable to him and that they couldn’t be taken for granted, much less disciplined.

It was like riding a riger; suddenly the tiger wanted to unseat the rider.

From the manner in which the Reddys have been playing their cards, mobilising support within the party in the same manner in which they had organised “Operation Kamala”, the national leadership has now realised that the Reddys are a tough nut to crack and they are quite unrelenting on their demand that Yediyurappa must go.

This perhaps has been the experience of the Reddys’ known mentor in the national leadership, Sushma  Swaraj, the deputy leader  of the opposition in the Lok Sabha.

All the known dissidents in the party who have been hurt by the authoritarian and arbitrary attitude of the CM, have moved over to the Reddy camp and it includes Jagadish Shettar, the speaker of the legislative assembly, who was miffed at not being included in the cabinet and assumed the post reluctantly.

The Reddys have been a political phenomenon and have made a decisive impact on the political scene in Karnataka in a manner in which no other family had in the more than five decade old history of the formation of the State.

Theirs has been a dangerous combination of insatiable political hunger coupled with money power of dimensions which cannot be easily comprehended.

Their main instrument for getting the political space and status has been the financial clout they have acquired almost overnight.

The emergence of the Reddys as a parallel centre for political  power, has materialised within a short span of 10 years. They cut their political teeth for the first time in 1999, throwing their weight behind Sushma Swaraj, whom the party had nominated to contest from Bellary in a bid to checkmate Sonia Gandhi, who had decided to seek election from Bellary besides her original constituency, Amethi.

The BJP and Sushma Swaraj gave the Congress, which had hoped to chalk out an effortless win from a constituency which had been considered as their political bastion, a run for their money. The BJP and the Reddys lost by a whisker, but they had carved out  the political space, where they had no presence all these  years.

From then on it has been  political joy ride for the Reddys.

They moved up the political ladder with each election. In 2004, Karunakar Reddy wrested the Bellary Lok Sabha seat from the Congress to rewrite political history.

Janardhan Reddy managed to enter the upper house of the legislature during this period.

During the BJP-JDS coalition in the second-half of the five year term of the assembly, Janardhan Reddy despite being a member of the coalition, hurled an open charge of corruption in mining against the then chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and got away with it despite the furore it created.

The BJP made a show of keeping him in suspension,only to take him back quietly later on.

In 2009, the Reddy brothers made a clean sweep of all but one of the eight assembly seats to prove their political hegemony over the district and two of their cronies won the Lok Sabha seats from Bellary and Raichur.

It was the first time the Congress tasted defeat in Raichur.

While this is the story of their political ascendance, equally puzzling has been the way in which they acquired their enormous financial clout.

It is not very clear when exactly they acquired mining interests  in the contiguous ore belt in neighbouring Anantapur. But this was the beginning of their march on to the path of affluence.

What fetched them the jackpot was the rising demand for iron ore from China, which helped skyrocket the price of  iron ore. Every big and small iron ore lease holder started wallowing in money.

For the record, the Reddys have no mining areas in Karnataka and everything is in Andhra Pradesh.

This fact notwithstanding, they have established firm control over the mining operations in Bellary district. The Reddys, who had good equations with the late Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, had carved out another empire in the form of a steel mill in Cuddapah, YSR’s home district.

It is reported that Jagan Mohan Reddy, the son of YSR, also has an interest in the steel mill started by the Reddys of Bellary. Recently, Janardhan Reddy was in the news when he presented a crown worth Rs 40 crore to Lord Venkateshwara of Tirupati.

Despite their reputation, the Reddys  continue to be a political enigma.

They have never allowed anybody to come close to them and analyse or understand them. All of them have cultivated the art of talking in riddles to hide their inner feelings. They live in Bellary in mansions, which are well fortified and guarded.

Their life style, of being arbitrary, arrogant and/or intimidatory is something akin to the manner in which the Reddy zamindars as a class are portrayed in Telugu cinema.

The Reddys who have tasted political power, are not averse to look beyond the BJP if need be to achieve their political ends. This is the one inescapable inference one can draw from the manner in the  Reddys have been dodging efforts of the national leadership to find an amicable solution to the current imbroglio.

The national leadership of the BJP is on the horns of dilemmas.

They can neither ditch Yediyurappa nor are they in a position to oblige the Reddys.

Whoever wins  in this battle of nerves, the party is a loser in the long run.

At a time when the State  in general and Northern Karnataka in particular are reeling under the impact of the floods, the spectacle of the BJP legislators ensconcing themselves in luxurious  resorts has not endeared the party to the people.

Photograph: Sushma Swaraj blesses B. Sriramulu (left) and Gali Janardhan Reddy in Bellary in January (Karnataka Photo News)

“When I grow up, I want to be a sub-inspector”

8 July 2009

KPN photo

Lok Ayukta raids unearthing “assets disproportionate to known sources of income” have long since ceased to surprise. But they also seem to have ceased to cause fear.

This little hut  belonging to—wait for it—a sub-inspector, yes, a sub-inspector in the State excise department was raided by the Lok Ayukta team in Ajjanapalya in Bangalore on Wednesday. Sub-inspector Ramachandrappa, smart chap that he is, rents it out for shooting purposes.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

From Subramanya Folly to Subramanya Revenge

24 June 2009

The decision of the B.S. Yediyurappa government to transfer the commissioner of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, S. Subramanya, has set tongues wagging.

Was it because of his “inappropriate” advice to the parents of Abhishek, the boy who was washed away? Or, because he had filed a defamation case against the Lok Ayukta, N. Santosh Hegde?

Or, was there some other reason like you-know-what?

The move has divided the rulers and the ruled. Good riddance say some, bad politics say others.

***

By T.J.S. GEORGE

Don’t believe reports that our justly revered Subramanya is no longer the face, voice and soul of BBMP (Bada Bengaloorina Mukhya Pracharak). In the land where Indira was India, Subramanya is and shall always be BBMP.

Subramanya’s footprints cannot be erased, his legacy cannot be ignored.

For Bangaloreans, Subramanya is indestructible, imperishable, immortal.

True, Subramanya’s empire was not quite of Mughal proportions. But it did cover vast territories from Govindapura (which is somewhere in the Himalayas) all the way to Kengeri (somewhere near the Indian Ocean). Vast multitudes of people live in these territories. Among them there is not one man, one woman or one child whose life has not been touched and shaped by the genius of Subramanya.

Such has been the power of the Magic Boxes and the Tragic Hoaxes he invented.

A combined Akbarnama cum Babarnama will be required to record the major horizons he conquered during his short reign. Since no editor will allow the space required for such a compendium, let us confine ourselves to just one of his gifts to BB, the VIP road from Golf Club Circle to Mekhri Circle.

That short stretch of signal-free highway is a signal contribution by the visionary in Subramanya.

There used to be a police station at the Golf Club circle. In the lockup of this police station, a visiting lawyer was once beaten to death and his body dumped near the railway tracks. No doubt keeping that in mind, Subramanya had the police station demolished (yet another instance of the IAS correcting the wayward IPS).

Putting the opportunity to good use, another skill where the IAS excels, Subramanya also demolished the great-grandmother trees that had spread out majestically and made this area one of the coolest, most verdant spots in cool and verdant Bangalore. A great deal of fresh space was freed for traffic.

Of course there was no signal at the circle. There was no signal at the Windsor Manor Circle either. Between these circles Subramanya gave us a magnificent stretch of road making us feel like we were driving on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Unfortunately, at both ends of namma New Jersey Turnpike, traffic piled up in signal-free chaos. This was because of traffics unpatriotic habit of coming from different directions. The flow from one side has to stop for the flow from the other side to proceed.

How unreasonable!

This became quite a mess at the Windsor Manor circle. During rush hours, especially with KSRTC buses appropriating all the lanes, it was one big chaos. That is why citizens renamed the Windsor Manor Circle as Subramanya’s Folly. To enjoy it fully, go there in the evenings.

If you got past Subramanya’s Folly and thought that everything would now flow smoothly, you would have time to think again. For by the time you negotiate the Palace Guttahally Magic Hoax Flyover, you will resume your crawling pace, bumper to bumper. This is because the traffic has backed up from the Cauvery Circle a kilometre away.

Ah, the Cauvery Circle.

This is already in the Guinness Book as the world’s most stunning U-turn. You’ve got to see it to believe it. A straight road is suddenly made to turn left and then take a U-turn to reach the straight line again. What imagination! What originality! You should see the way the buses negotiate the U-turn and how all traffic pay homage to the planning genius as they move forward in slow motion.

Wonderstruck citizens have renamed the Cauvery Circle also. It is now known as Subramanya’s Revenge.

Look closely in the evening hours. You can see Subramanya on top of a flexboard hoarding, watching the tortuous muddle below and chuckling to himself about the unforgiving effectiveness of the punishment he has meted out to these goddamn Bangaloreans including meddlesome politicians and Lokayuktas.

The sheer genius behind the U-turn inventions has led to two marvelous developments.

First, Harvard Business School has taken it up as a case study. Second, the inventor is getting an international patent on the U-turn.

It does not matter where Subramanya is posted. Even if he is Secretary to the Department of Cockroaches, the twin glories of Subramanya’s Folly and Subramanya’s Revenge will keep him as the face, the voice and the soul of BBMP for ever.

Amen.

Photograph: courtesy The Hindu


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