It is political vendetta, says Deve Gowda

Special Correspondent
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CID files FIR on ‘irregularities' in Upper Krishna Project

Janata Dal (Secular) president H.D. Deve Gowda at a press conference in Bangalore on Thursday. — Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy
Janata Dal (Secular) president H.D. Deve Gowda at a press conference in Bangalore on Thursday. — Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

The former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda on Thursday made a scathing attack on what he called “political vendetta by the ruling BJP” and the “casteist” agenda of a top police officer with an eye on his promotion, contending that they were the motivating factors behind the FIR filed on Wednesday on the 16-year-old case of alleged irregularities in the Upper Krishna Project (UKP), even though previous governments had closed the file.

The CID on Wednesday filed an FIR at the Vidhana Soudha police station related to the alleged irregularities in awarding piecework contracts from 1995 to 1998 when Mr. Gowda was the Chief Minister. The FIR does not name the accused.

“If they (Government) are trying to target me, I will target both the BJP and the Congress,” said Mr. Gowda, speaking to presspersons here, accusing the latter of being hand in glove with the ruling party to target him. He said some of cases being referred to date back to when the Congress was in power.

Caste card

Targeting CID chief Shankar M. Bidari, Mr. Gowda said that he was playing the caste card with an eye on the post of Director-General and Inspector-General of Police, which will become vacant next month. He alleged that Mr. Bidari was preparing the ground for elevation to the post, hoping that the Government would overlook the seniority of the other officer in contention.

Mr. Gowda alleged that the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa was still running the Government from jail, obliquely blaming him for resurrecting the UKP case. “The Cabinet decided to grant Rs. 18 crore for projects in Hassan. Not even 18 paisa has been released so far,” he said, demanding to know how that was possible if Mr. Yeddyurappa was not continuing to dictate terms.

He said that Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda had failed to replace even a single officer appointed by Mr. Yeddyurappa. “He is not in power, but controls everything. The whole world knows it,” he said.

He said that the report submitted by the Estimates Committee headed by Vaijnath Patil in 1997 — which had found irregularities in the award of piecework contracts to the tune of Rs. 400 crore and recommended a CBI investigation — had itself admitted that the allegations were based on “hearsay”, and subsequent governments had not acted on it.

Taking credit for completing the project on time and getting Karnataka's share of water, which the earlier Congress governments had failed to do, Mr. Gowda said that the officers concerned had worked honestly to complete work by June 2000.

Mr. Gowda expressed solidarity with the officers who are likely face charges now that the case has been reopened. He said that there were “no one-man decisions” and all decisions were approved at four levels, with the Cabinet being the final stage of approval.

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