Lokayukta raids on BJP MLA Madal Virupakshappa’s son Prashanth Madal, and the MLA too being booked for alleged corruption subsequently, has set off a war of words between the ruling BJP and Opposition parties in Karnataka. Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah took to Twitter to seek immediate elections to “put an end to rampant corruption by the BJP government”.
Opposition Congress and JD(S) claimed that the case, in which the Lokayukta police caught the MLA’s son accepting a bribe for awarding a contract in Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Ltd. (KSDL), allegedly on behalf of his father, was only the latest proof of “40% commission prevalent in the BJP government”.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai countered it by saying that it was his government that had empowered the Karnataka Lokayukta to eliminate corruption in the administration, while the erstwhile Congress regime had weakened it.
Congress to approach EC
In a series of tweets, Mr. Siddaramaiah said the party would approach the Election Commission of India to urge it to announce the election schedule at the earliest. “It is the responsibility of the Election Commission to stop misuse of government machinery for a party’s campaign. I urge the Election Commission of India to immediately announce the elections and impose the code of conduct,” he said.
The Congress has announced a protest led by State unit chief D.K. Shivakumar and Mr. Siddaramaiah on Saturday. Party leaders will lay siege to the Chief Minister’s residence in the city, demanding his resignation on moral grounds.
Randeep Singh Surjewala, AICC general secretary in charge of Karnataka, alleged that the “ugly stench of corruption of 40% of the government has soiled the beautiful scent of Mysore Sandal Soap”. He demanded a judicial probe by the Chief Justice of the High Court of Karnataka into corruption in the BJP government. “What is the role of Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani and Mr. Bommai? The MLA should be arrested; Mr. Bommai should resign, and Mr. Nirani should be sacked,” Mr. Surjewala said.
JD(S) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy, in a series of tweets, asked Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who was visiting the State on Friday, as to who had now made Karnataka their ATM, taking a dig at the BJP leader’s earlier allegation that the party patriarch H.D. Deve Gowda’s family had made the State their ATM.
Probe will be impartial: CM
Countering these allegations with a moral high ground, Mr. Bommai said the government would not interfere in the probe of the anti-corruption body and let it conduct the probe impartially.
Taking a dig at Mr. Shivakumar, who called the episode proof of “40% commission” practice in the government, Mr. Bommai said the previous Congress government, led by Mr. Siddaramaiah, weakened the Lokayukta and closed several cases by referring them to the Anti-Corruption Bureau.
“The Lokayukta had been probing 59 cases involving MLAs and Ministers of the Congress. The cases of corruption, which were declared ‘closed’ by the Congress government led by Mr. Siddaramaiah, will now be investigated by the Lokayukta,” he said.