Senior leaders of the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Janata Dal (Secular), including three former Chief Ministers, will face an inquiry ordered by the Special Lokayukta Court here on Thursday into the alleged Bangalore-Mysore expressway scam, which is already being heard by various courts, including the Karnataka High Court and the Supreme Court.
Taking cognisance of a complaint filed by activist T.J. Abraham that alleged large-scale fraud in the Bangalore Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) project, judge N.K. Sudhindra Rao ordered the Lokayukta police to register an FIR against 30 persons, including the Janata Dal (Secular) supremo and former Prime Minister and former Chief Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda; the External Affairs Minister and former Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna; another former Chief Minister and BJP leader, B.S. Yeddyurappa; the Public Works Minister, C.M. Udasi; the former Pradesh Congress Committee working president, D.K. Shivakumar, and the former PCC chief, R.V. Deshpande.
Interestingly, Mr. Gowda finds himself listed as the prime accused in the case, notwithstanding the fact that he had been spearheading a campaign alleging irregularities in the BMIC project promoted by Nandi Infras tructure Corridor Enterprises (NICE) Ltd. Also on the list of accused is his bête noir and NICE Managing Director Ashok Kheny.
In his complaint, Mr. Abraham had accused Mr. Gowda of “clandestinely” granting 4,285 acres of land to NICE for the formation of a township. This was allegedly done without consulting the State High-level Clearance Committee and the Finance Committee.
The list of 30, on which several senior bureaucrats figure, also includes William Weld, former Governor of Massachusetts, U.S. In 1995, Mr. Weld signed an MoU with the Karnataka government that allowed the entry of American infrastructure companies in the BMIC project. The Lokayukta police will also probe the role of ICICI Bank Ltd., its former chairman Narayanan Vaghul and Executive Director of ICICI Ventures Mohit Batra.
Mr. Abraham said: “I welcome this order. However, my faith is pinned on the court and I do not have much confidence in the Lokayukta police.”