In yet another embarrassment to the BJP government, which is facing charges of corruption from the Opposition, the Karnataka State Contractors’ Association on Monday accused senior BJP legislator G.H. Thippareddy of demanding and receiving bribe for works undertaken in Chitradurga constituency.
Association Working President R. Manjunath released a purported audio of him with the legislator in this regard, and claimed that he had paid close to ₹90 lakh as commission to the legislator in the last three years, a claim rebuffed by Mr. Thippareddy. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai told reporters at Hubballi that he was not aware of the audio, and that he could react only after hearing it.
Mr. Manjunath claimed that the association still had documents/audios of about 13 legislators and four Ministers, which they would release shortly. He also said that they would approach the Lokayukta with documents.
The claim comes after the association last year charged the BJP government of seeking 40% commission in public works implemented in the State that led to the Congress launching ‘PayCM’ campaign to highlight the corruption charge. The death of contractor Santosh Patil had led to resignation of then Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister K.S. Eshwarappa. The association on Monday also clarified that commission was there during the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) governments too, but has increased now.
Stating that there was no corruption or commission in Chitradurga earlier, Mr. Manjunath said: “Corruption was started by Mr. Thippareddy. The association sent two letters highlighting commission and corruption through registered post to Mr. Thippareddy. We have all the documents to prove our allegations. Contractors are being harassed for money.” Mr. Manjunath said that the percentage for commission was conveyed by the legislator using hand signals.
Rebuffing allegations, Mr. Thippareddy told The Hindu that he and Mr. Manjunath had a political feud, and that the allegations was being hurled at him now as elections are approaching. He said that the allegations were baseless and done with a malafide intention. “He wants all the work for himself or persons he would recommend. I stopped that in the last three years. PWD Minister C.C. Patil had also rebuked him publicly last year. The public in Chitradurga know about his antecedents. I will discuss with the party and take a decision on legal challenge.”
Meanwhile, the contractors’ association announced that it will hold a protest rally on January 18 in Bengaluru to press for their demands, which include release of pending bills worth ₹25,000 crore for works executed across the State. Despite promises by Mr. Bommai, their demands for not floating tenders under packages had not been met even as the works are being taken up after seeking exemption under KTTP Act.