Asnotikar, an asset or liability to BJP?

Anand Asnotikar

Anand Asnotikar  

Deepak Kumar

Karwar: Fisheries, Science and Technology Minister Anand Asnotikar, the youngest Minister in the State Cabinet, has been involved in one controversy or the other. The latest is the transfer of Karwar Assistant Commissioner Vijay Mahantesh. It was a foregone conclusion that after pronouncing a judgment against the Minister in an election-related issue, the Assistant Commissioner will be transferred out of Karwar before the by-election to the Karwar Assembly constituency.

A few days ago, the BJP had staged a demonstration in Karwar seeking the transfer of the officer who dared to deliver a judgment against the Minister. It was a known fact that the demonstration was sponsored by the Minister. But after the transfer of the officer, none of the BJP leader is ready to react, saying there is nothing political about the transfer and it was just another case of routine administrative shake-up. With this transfer, Mr. Asnotikar has landed in another controversy.

But, for him controversies are not new. He entered active politics during the last Assembly election as an aspirant of the Congress from the Karwar Assembly constituency. But the Congress leader Margaret Alva and the local Congress leaders were against him. Despite all the hurdles created by Ms. Alva and her supporters, Mr. Asnotikar managed to get the party ticket with the help of R.V. Deshapande and other State Congress leaders.

This lead to a political turmoil in the local Congress unit and Ms. Alva’s supporters openly revolted against Mr. Asnotikar by supporting a rebel Congress candidate Ganapati Ulvekar.

During the election, the local Congress leaders accused the party High Command of selling party ticket. The cash-for-ticket allegation which landed Ms. Alva in an unpleasant situation surfaced during the last Assembly election. An unfazed Mr. Asnotikar won the seat by a huge margin.

Within 40 days of becoming MLA, he resigned from the Assembly and the party accusing his one-time mentor Mr. Deshpande of hatching a political conspiracy against him. His defection created turmoil in the Congress, and Mr. Asnotikar became a Minister in the BJP Government.

Soon after this, Mr. Deshpande held a press meet in Karwar and accused Mr. Asnotikar of ditching the party to save his business. Mr. Deshpande said Mr. Asnotikar was building a hotel near the Kali river by violating CRZ norms. However, Mr. Asnotikar denied this. The complaint filed by the Congress is pending with the department concerned.

Then the illegal construction of a jetty at Belekeri was in the news. The company, which started building the jetty without proper permission, had Mr. Asnotikar as a partner, according to Mr. Deshpande and Opposition Leader in Legislative Council Ugrappa, who visited the jetty for an inspection. The Minister denied his hand in it, and later the district administration got the construction work stopped.

Soon after this, Mr. Ugrappa held a press meet in Bangalore and released documents relating to the Dileep Naik murder case and demanded a CBI inquiry into it. BJP leaders, including Dhananjay Kumar, came to the rescue of the Minister.

Immediately after that, Mr. Vijay Mahantesh (Karwar Assistant Commissioner) held Asnotikar guilty of concealing the truth in his affidavit submitted to the Election Commission. This led to a hue and cry by the Congress and other Opposition parties, and they demanded Mr. Asnotikar’s resignation.

The Election Commission filed a criminal case against the Minister in the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court in Karwar. When the Minister did not appear in court, a non-bailable warrant was issued against him. Then he had to surrender before court to avoid arrest.

Now, the officer who had delivered a judgment against the Minister has been transferred leading to another political controversy.

It is said that Mr. Asnotikar is the only Minister in the Cabinet who has been involved in so many controversies in such a short span of time. In every controversy, the BJP High Command had to rush to his help, though he is new to the party. Whether he is an asset or a liability to the party and the Government is the question being asked in the party circles in the district.

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