March 29, 2020
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A Gold-Laden Ship: All Hands On The Deck!

Corruption in Karnataka is a deep-seated tradition. An accused incumbent needs only to point it out.

A Gold-Laden Ship: All Hands On The Deck!
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Whenever Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa has been cornered with corruption charges vis-a-vis illegal mining or in land deals, he has pointed to the ill-doings of the Congress and JD(S) regimes. This has weakened the opposition’s moral position. Illegalities in mining and transportation of iron ore did not start with the BJP government. It began around 2000, when the S.M. Krishna-led Congress government was in power, and picked up steam during the Dharam Singh and H.D. Kumaraswamy regimes.

There have been allegations of the involvement of many Congress leaders and members of the Gowda family in mining and trading of iron ore. The Lokayukta’s interim report also points to encroachments on mining land by companies owned by Congress leaders like M.Y. Ghorpade, Allum Veerabhadrappa and H.G. Ramulu.

The close association of the Bellary Reddy brothers with former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy and the fact that their official mining leases are all in Andhra Pradesh has often thrown up questions about the Congress being hand-in-glove with the scam. However, with regard to mining, the biggest shocker came when the Reddys levelled a Rs 150-crore bribe charge against Kumaraswamy when he was chief minister. The matter is in court.

When Yediyurappa was recently accused of denotifying land at will, he put out records that the governments of S.M. Krishna (251.32 acres), Dharam Singh (133.02 acres) and Kumaraswamy (275.21 acres) had also denotified land. When it comes to distribution of discretionary quota sites of the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), all chief ministers have again thrown norms to the winds.

One of the biggest infrastructure projects, the Bangalore-Mysore expressway, has been tottering for decades because of the landed interests of politicians and bureaucrats, allegedly including the Deve Gowda family. The Congress and JD(S) leaders have been discreet in their operations; what distinguishes the Yediyurappa regime is its brazenness.

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