AU­DAC­ITY OF GRAFT

Former chief min­is­ters couldn’t care less about al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion

India Today - - NATION - By Sowmya Aji

P“I am not Har­ishchan­dra. I have never claimed to be 100 per cent clean.” H.D. KU­MARASWAMY, FORMER CHIEF MIN­IS­TER

oliti­cians in Kar­nataka are com­pet­ing, not only in cor­rup­tion but in who can be more brazen about it. Two former chief min­is­ters, B.S. Yed­dyu­rappa of the

BJP and H.D. Ku­maraswamy of Janata Dal (Sec­u­lar), are out­do­ing one an­other in open graft. Yed­dyu­rappa, in jail as an un­der­trial on two charges of bribery, de­fi­antly said af­ter be­ing in­dicted by the lokayukta re­port at the end of July, “I have com­mit­ted no er­ror. I have only done what my pre­de­ces­sors did.” His im­me­di­ate pre­de­ces­sor, Ku­maraswamy, has no qualms about fol­low­ing suit. He told IN­DIA TO­DAY, “I am not Har­ishchan­dra. I have never claimed to be 100 per cent clean. No politi­cian to­day can say that he is liv­ing by the dint of his earn­ings. We all need do­na­tions dur­ing elec­tion time, and it au­to­mat­i­cally car­ries obli­ga­tions.”

A se­ries of cases, rev­e­la­tions, scams and counter-scams have come out in re­cent times against both the former chief min­is­ters. If Yed­dyu­rappa has been de­nied bail and put in jail, Ku­maraswamy has barely es­caped a sim­i­lar fate but still faces a bigamy case in the Kar­nataka High Court.

Yed­dyu­rappa’s stand that he has only com­mit­ted wrongs that the oth­ers also have has not earned him cen­sure. In­stead, top re­li­gious lead­ers from his com­mu­nity, the Lin­gay­ats, the sin­gle-

“I have commi

largest caste group in Kar­nataka, have made a bee­line for him, openly ad­mired this stand and thor­oughly en­dorsed it. It has al­most turned Yed­dyu­rappa into a hero. Ku­maraswamy, who be­longs to the sec­ond-largest caste, the Vokkali­gas, seems to have learnt a les­son from Yed­dyu­rappa. Be it bigamy or al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion, he ad­mits to all of it and gets away.

The sav­ing grace has been strong ju­di­cial ac­tivism, but the po­lit­i­cal bat­tle lines have crept even into the courts as lawyers sup­port­ing Yed­dyu­rappa and Ku­maraswamy in­dulge in a rau­cous ex­change of cases against each other.

IF YED­DYU­RAPPA HAS BEEN DE­NIED BAIL AND PUT IN JAIL, KU­MARASWAMY HAS BARELY ES­CAPED A SIM­I­LAR FATE BUT STILL FACES A BIGAMY CASE IN HIGH COURT.

tted no er­ror. I have only done what my pre­de­ces­sors did.” B.S. YED­DYU­RAPPA, FORMER CHIEF MIN­IS­TER

Yed­dyu­rappa is in jail on cor­rup­tion charges af­ter sup­port­ers of Ku­maraswamy filed ap­pli­ca­tions un­der the Right to In­for­ma­tion Act and ac­quired damning doc­u­ments against him. Two lawyers known to be Ku­maraswamy’s sup­port­ers, Si­ran­jan Basha and K.N. Balaraj, filed five cases against Yed­dyu­rappa in the lokayukta court as well as the Kar­nataka High Court based on doc­u­ments re­leased ear­lier. The lokayukta court di­rected fil­ing of charges against Yed­dyu­rappa and de­nied him bail, send­ing him to prison on Oc­to­ber 15.

Yed­dyu­rappa’s sup­port­ers swung into ac­tion. One lawyer, H.R. Vish­wanath, filed a case in the Kar­nataka High Court on the same day that Yed­dyu­rappa was ar­rested, ac­cus­ing ev­ery­one from BJP stal­wart L.K. Ad­vani to Ku­maraswamy of vendetta against Yed­dyu­rappa. An­other Yed­dyu­rappa sup­porter, Vinod Ku­mar, had filed cases of cor­rup­tion in April, ac­cus­ing Ku­maraswamy and his MLA wife, Anitha, of grant­ing favours to a min­ing com­pany in lieu of a hous­ing site. A case was also filed against Ku­maraswamy’s el­der brother H.D. Balakr­ishne Gowda ac­cus­ing him of amass­ing dis­pro­por­tion­ate as­sets worth Rs 500 crore, re­sult­ing in an in­come tax raid on Oc­to­ber 14.

The game also got per­sonal. A bigamy case was filed on Oc­to­ber 19 against Ku­maraswamy stat­ing that he should be pe­nalised as he was a mem­ber of Par­lia­ment and had il­le­gally wed ac­tress Rad­hika de­spite be­ing mar­ried to Anitha. This case is still pend­ing. Ku­maraswamy brushed it off, say­ing, “These things hap­pen in fam­i­lies. It is a per­sonal is­sue and I will sort it out at that level.”

Yed­dyu­rappa has now dug up a 16year-old case against Ku­maraswamy’s fa­ther, former prime min­is­ter H.D. Deve Gowda. The case re­lates to en­gi­neer­ing con­tracts is­sued piece­meal for the Up­per Kr­ishna Project to ir­ri­gate large tracts of north Kar­nataka, which Gowda al­legedly signed on his last day as chief min­is­ter for kick­backs. Kar­nataka’s Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tion Depart­ment, headed by DGP Shankar M. Bi­dari, con­sid­ered a Yed­dyu­rappa man, res­ur­rected this case and filed an

FIR on Oc­to­ber 30, with­out nam­ing the ac­cused. Gowda de­clared war and di­rectly ac­cused Yed­dyu­rappa of try­ing to use Bi­dari. The DGP, in a pub­lic let­ter, re­futed this and asked the govern­ment to hand over the case to the lokayukta, where all charges against both camps are be­ing filed and fought.

“They can foist all the cases they want to against me, my fa­ther and my broth­ers,” says Ku­maraswamy. He and his fa­ther are plan­ning to tour the state, seek­ing sym­pa­thy for be­ing vic­tims of vendetta. If Yed­dyu­rappa comes out of jail, he will also do a tour, drum­ming up sym­pa­thy for his jail term caused by Ku­maraswamy’s “vin­dic­tive­ness”. The Kar­nataka voter will have to fig­ure out which ‘vic­tim’ to sym­pa­thise with.

KUMARASWAMYWITH AC­TRESS RAD­HIKA, AL­LEGEDLY HIS

SEC­OND WIFE

YEDDYURAPPAWITH RAJADESHIKENDRA SHIVACHARYA SWAMI, PON­TIFF OFRAMBHAPURI MUTT

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