He speaks of graft in Karnataka without naming anyone

“Good governance cannot co-exist with corruption. If we want to fight against corruption outside, we cannot compromise with it amongst ourselves…” This was Bharatiya Janata Party veteran L.K. Advani's message to the Karnataka unit whose prominent leaders, including Ministers, are in jail following allegations of corruption at a time when he has launched a nationwide campaign against graft.

Addressing a public convention amid heavy rain at the National College Grounds here as part of his Jan Chetna Yatra, Mr. Advani touched upon the embarrassing episode of corruption in Karnataka even as political circles, including BJP's own cadre, were curious to see how he would react to the situation. The gathering, which braved the rain, applauded when Mr. Advani took a tough stand against corruption among the party leaders in Karnataka.

Stand on graft

He indicated that there was no change in his stand with respect to corruption in Karnataka and recalled that he had touched upon it during his last visit to the State in April this year. “If I have to criticise the Congress for certain faults, I cannot accept the same faults in our own party.”

At the same time, he maintained: “A person will not become guilty just because charges have been made against him. Allegations have to be proved to call him guilty. However, we [in Karnataka] acted as soon as the Lokayukta submitted his report on illegal mining.” This was in reference to the replacement of B.S. Yeddyurappa as Chief Minister.

Interestingly, Mr. Advani did not take anybody's name, and desisted from giving any specific instructions on what the party should do with respect to those facing corruption charges.

Pat for Chief Minister

He said Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda was headed in the right direction. “I had a brief conversation with him and from that I can make out that he is going in the right direction. Through such action, I am sure that he will give good governance.”

As for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said: “I had respect for him prior to him becoming the Prime Minister. But now, I am sad to say that I have never seen such a corrupt government.”

He termed the cash-for-vote case as the most shameful incident in Independent India.

Nearly Rs. 25,000 crore of black money from India was estimated to have been stashed away in Swiss banks, he said, and added that it could be possible to provide all necessary infrastructure in the six lakh villages in India if that money was brought back.

While Home Minister R. Ashok, against whom an FIR has been filed in a land scam case, was seated on the dais, several Ministers, who belong to Mr. Yeddyurappa's camp, were absent as they had gone to attend the funeral of a seer.

The yatra will proceed from Mangalore on Monday and pass through Udupi and Kumta before entering Goa on Tuesday.