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Updated: June 9, 2014 09:36 IST
corridors of power

What about women’s rights?

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Congress MLA Ramesh Kumar
The Hindu
Congress MLA Ramesh Kumar

The very core of the story appears to be getting drowned out by the sub-plots in the case involving an ADGP

A lot can indeed happen over coffee. The high-profile case of Additional Director-General of Police P. Ravindranath allegedly taking photograph of a woman on his cellphone at a coffee shop has taken many twists and turns. Many sub-plots began to emerge after the ADGP alleged that the entire episode was part of a conspiracy hatched against him by the police top brass.

He went on to file a complaint under the Prevention of Atrocities Act against Bangalore city Police Commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar. The issue has been playing out in many episodes since then, each more dramatic than the other: Karnataka State Reserve Police personnel staging protests in support of the officer, his resignation and its subsequent retraction, his transfer and subsequent request for its cancellation, Dalit Ministers throwing their weight behind Mr. Ravindranath, the Opposition’s demand for the Home Minister’s resignation, endless interviews on news channels of the accused and his family too. All these events, even as a CID inquiry is on, have led to concern about the image of the police and the government getting dented and the common man losing faith in policing.

Interestingly, what appears to be getting drowned out by the series of sub-plots is the very core of the story — did the ADGP click photo of the woman or did he not? How does an episode of this kind resonate in society where women’s safety is a matter of grave concern? Was the woman feeling traumatised? In a nutshell: what happens to the “common woman’s faith” in the system?

Council seats for sale

With elections scheduled for seven seats of the Legislative Council, its Chairman D.H. Shankaramurthy surprised everyone by saying that membership of the Upper House is being sold for a whopping Rs. 12 crore.

Mr. Shankaramurthy revealed this at an interaction programme on ‘Relevance of the Legislative Council’ at Sagar in Shimoga district. Mr. Shankaramurthy, who served as a legislator for more than two decades, expressed displeasure saying that “politicians who taste defeat in the Assembly and Parliamentary elections are accommodated in the Legislative Council” by their parties to enable them to remain active in politics. Some political parties were selling the MLC seats and the trend of nominating business leaders to the Upper House had become a common feature and it should be stopped, he said.

When a member of the audience asked about the amount needed to become an MLC, Mr. Shankaramurthy said, “The amount of Rs. 12 crore is required to become an MLC. If anyone among the audience has that amount, I will tell you whom to contact.”

The former BJP MLA Belur Gopalakrishna acknowledged that horse trading was taking place. He asked his party to take stern action against legislators who cast their vote against the party.

Interestingly, Mr. Gopalakrishna, a party-hopper, was disqualified from the Assembly membership in 2010 by the then Speaker K.G. Bopaiah, under the anti-defection law. Later, the Supreme Court quashed the disqualification order.

Benefits for some

The former Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar is often admired for his wit. He was once again at his best at a divisional-level meeting of presidents and vice-presidents of the panchayat raj institutions he had convened in Belgaum to study their functioning in the last two decades.

Mr. Kumar, Congress MLA, who heads the panel to make the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act, 1993, more effective, shocked everybody present when he said 87 per cent of benefits of government expenditure were enjoyed by just 6 per cent of its employees while only 13 per cent of the benefits were meant for 94 per cent of the population in the State. More revelations came from presidents of gram panchayats: 40 per cent of the annual grant of Rs. 8 lakh to a gram panchayat in the State went towards payment of electricity bill, another 40 per cent towards payment of salaries to staff and the residual 20 per cent for the reservation quota-development and welfare of the SCs and STs. After all this, there was not even a single rupee left to take up development work. Will new recommendations on panchayat raj institutions balance the equation?

Uneasy calm in Kolar

Uneasy calm prevailed between the bureaucracy and people’s representatives in Kolar district after Chandrashekhar, Assistant Executive Engineer of Srinivasapur taluk, was sent out of the Kolar Zilla Panchayat meeting on the insistence of JD(S) ZP member Somashekhar Reddy and other members. The Government Employees’ Association protested the “insult” the engineer suffered.

The AEE was asked to exit the meeting for filing a police complaint against the attack on him and his colleague, junior engineer Byra Reddy, allegedly at the behest of Mr. Somashekhar Reddy. The attack took place when they were on their way to inspect the spot where irregularities were said to have occurred in the execution of works under the MNREGA. The engineers were allegedly threatened with dire consequences by some Janata Dal (S) supporters if they exposed lapses in the job scheme. To settle scores, Mr. Chandrashekhar was asked to leave the meeting.

The association, in a petition to ZP Chief Executive Officer R. Vinot Priya, said there was no provision in the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act to send any employee out of a meeting. The staff warned that they would be forced to boycott government programmes and meetings in the district if such acts were repeated.

Reporting by Bageshree S.,Veerendra P.M., Vijayakumar Patil, and Vishwa Kundapura

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