It’s not something that a chief minister — past or present — would be proud of; a dubious distinction of being probably the only CM to have been embroiled in one or the other court case throughout, as well as after, his term in office.
But BS Yediyurappa has to live with it. Maybe that’s in keeping with his fighting character, and his fading career.
At 79, the Lingayat strongman has started a new legal battle in response to a corruption case filed against him in the Lokayukta, following a recent High Court order to register an FIR against him and his family members on a private complaint alleging corruption.
Courting corruption charges
The cases against Yediyurappa have always helped the Opposition, mainly the Congress party, in the state. The corruption case against him was one of the key reasons the Congress gained power in 2013. BSY is not the CM anymore, but his party is fretting because it was only last month that he was appointed to the Parliamentary Board, the party’s apex policy-making body, in a bid to add heft to its campaign ahead of the upcoming assembly elections. His elevation was seen as a strategy to win over the Lingayats, the largest community in the state.
The ruling BJP in the state is facing several allegations and the new case against BSY will become another weapon for the opposition. A lot, however, depends on the decision of the Supreme Court, as BSY has challenged the HC order that seeks investigations into various instances of corruption and bribery during his latest tenure, in the SC.
The son rising
Another important issue is that other than the party, the new case may affect BSY’s dream of getting a good position in the party for his son BY Vijayendra. BSY had recently announced his retirement from electoral politics, but gave his home turf Shikaripura to his son Vijayendra, who is considered in the political circle as the successor of his father.
Vijayendra, who is now the vice-president of the state BJP, is believed to have made a bid to become a minister in the Basavaraj Bommai cabinet, but the central leadership did not show interest. It is said that the party’s intention was to make him prove himself in the coming elections and keep the likelihood of his elevation for a later stage.
According to an insider, Vijayendra has proved on several occasions, including the bypolls, through his intelligent strategies, and that’s why he was made the party’s vice-president.
Also read: Karnataka BJP’s leadership crisis: BSY may be the reluctant choice
However, former CM BSY has been a ‘fighter’ in the state politics since the beginning of his career and the party could not neglect him; he is the only mass leader in the state who enjoys a strong following among the Lingayat community. After he became the CM in 2008 through ‘Operation Lotus,’ which helped the BJP cobble together the majority number through bypassing the anti-defection law and securing support from legislators, BSY fought several legal battles.
Resigning from his position as Member of Legislative Assembly and the primary membership of the BJP in November 2012, he formally launched a new party — Karnataka Janata Paksha. In the meanwhile, he has attracted several cases against him, mainly corruption-related. With parties going all out ahead of the 2023 polls, BSY is fighting his way back.
The recent case
The Lokayukta police recently registered a case against BSY, his son Vijayendra and others in a graft case after a direction from the Special Court. However, they are yet to take further action as Yediyurappa has moved to the SC, challenging the Special Court’s order. On 19th September, the counsels of BSY submitted that the HC had wrongly interpreted the sanction and allowed a probe against BSY. The SC has posted the hearing to September 23.
On September 7, the Karnataka HC restored a private complaint against Yediyurappa and his family members, including his son, grandson Shashidhar Maradi, son-in-law Virupakshappa Yamakanmaradi, daughter Padmavathi, and son-in-law Sanjay Sree. Businessman Chandrakanth Ramalingam, Cooperative Minister ST Somashekhar K Ravi, Virupakshappa Y and IAS officer JC Prakash are also named in the private case.
The complaint — by social activist TJ Abraham — seeks an investigation by a competent authority into the corruption and kickback allegations during BSY’s tenure as CM. Before this, Abraham had approached the governor for the sanction to lodge a case against the BSY when he was the CM, but was rejected by the Governor.
However, the HC held that there was no legal significance in approaching the Governor for the sanction as the complainant was not competent to seek it.
Also read: Modi’s Mangaluru visit shows why BSY is key for BJP ahead of polls
The Special Court attached to the High Court, which is looking after cases related to the elected representatives, said that there was no need for sanction from the Governor as Yediyurappa is no longer the CM and directed Lokayukta police to book FIR against the accused and submit a report by November 2, 2022.
Earlier, on July 8, the Special Court had rejected the complaint, citing the Governor’s refusal to give sanction. This was challenged in the HC by the complainant Abraham.
According to Abraham, the case comes under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the allegation involves the payment of a bribe to the tune of ₹12 crore made to a Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) housing project in favour of Ramalingam Constructions. Besides, there was an illegal transaction of ₹17.5 crore in cash on behalf of the accused through BSY’s close family members via a few shell companies.
The Lokayukta police have registered an FIR under the Prevention of Corruption Act and other IPC sections based on the complaint filed by Abraham, who has alleged that the accused received kickbacks for BDA Apartment construction contracts by awarding tenders at Konadasapura in Bidarahalli in the city.
He also alleged in the complaint that the accused received ₹30 crore as bribe from a builder and routed it through their shell companies between 2019 to 2021. The total tender was around ₹660 crore.
Also read: Behind BJP’s decision to choose Bommai as Karnataka CM
Other cases of BSY and others
- BSY was allegedly involved in illegal de-notification of land in 2011 when he was the CM and five FIRs in Lokayukta were registered against him. He was made to resign from the CM post and was later arrested by the Lokayukta police on October 15 in 2011; he was released on bail on November 8, 2011. However, in the legal fight, the HC quashed the cases against him in 2015.
- In an FIR related to illegal mining, the HC temporarily stayed the matter in May 2012, asking for a CBI probe to be submitted within three months. The HC quashed it in 2013.
- In another alleged illegal denotification case in 2009, the HC granted BSY anticipatory bail in 2012.
- A case against BSY linked to the alleged encroachment of land in Bhadra Reserve Forest was quashed in the HC. A separate case against him involving the alleged irregularities in the Upper Bhadra irrigation project was also quashed by the court.