Basavaraj Bommai
The latest corruption charge is another embarrassment to the Basavaraj Bommai government.

Karnataka: BJP MLA leaves Bommai govt red-faced with graft charge

Goolihatti Shekhar has alleged that different state government departments released tenders totalling Rs 18,000 crore on a single day

As if the existing scandals were not damaging enough, another major corruption charge has now been hurled at the BJP government in Karnataka ahead of assembly elections, that too by one of its own MLAs.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders have been left red faced after MLA Goolihatti Shekhar made the sensational allegation that different government departments released tenders totalling Rs 18,000 crore on a single day.

This, said Congress leader Siddaramaiah, had been done because BJP MLAs are desperate to raise money ahead of the elections in which the Congress is posing a stiff challenge.

The latest corruption charge, BJP insiders admit, is another embarrassment to the government.

MLA’s charge

According to Shekhar, several government-run corporations and boards have issued the tenders to the tune of Rs 18,000 crore. He has filed a complaint with the police alleging that a group of 10 persons forged the documents of a 4,000 square feet ‘G’ category site allotted to him by the Karnataka government.

As it is, the BJP government in Karnataka is reeling under several corruption charges. These include scams related to selection of police sub-inspectors (an IPS officer and more than 50 others including police officials have been arrested), teachers recruitment, Karnataka Power Transmission Corp Ltd recruitment, multi-crore Bitcoin scandal, allegations of politicians charging 40 per cent commission from contractors as well as theft of voter data.

Specific allegations

The BJP MLA from Hosadurga constituency has written to the Additional Chief Secretary of the Water Resource department making serious charges. Shekhar said the KBJL (Krishna Bhagya Jala Nigama Ltd), VJNL (Visvesvaraya Jala Nigam Ltd) and KNNL (Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Ltd) and other corporations have made illegal minutes and released tenders of Rs 18,000 crores. He demanded cancellation of these tenders and work orders and sought a re-tender.

“There are several loopholes and illegal activities done during the tender of projects related to drip-irrigation of Upper Bhadra Project and pipelines to fill water to the tanks in Hosadurga, Jagaluru, Kadoor and other taluks. These tender works have to be cancelled immediately,” he said in his letter.

“The meetings of the Management Board of the corporations took place on the same day all over the state and decided to open the tender for construction works worth Rs 18,000 crore. Also, Rs 4,200 crore worth of tenders related to VJNL was released by giving just a week’s time by not maintaining transparency. They have already supplied pipes of poor quality,” he said.

Congress salvo

The Congress has released Shekhar’s letter and sought a detailed investigation.   Siddaramaiah said the BJP government keeps asking for documents to ‘prove’ graft charges. Now, the letter has been written by a BJP leader and exposed the corruption in his government, he pointed out.

Siddaramaiah said the BJP government was looting the exchequer. He said this was being done to raise money for the elections. There is dissatisfaction among all the MLAs who have not become ministers, he said, adding that they are hastily calling meetings in KBJL, VJNL and KNNL to get approval for the projects. There is no transparency.

KPCC chief DK Shivakumar said the BJP government is hastily preparing tenders in all departments including public works, rural development, minor irrigation and energy. “We are ready to provide all documentation in this regard,” he added.

BJP defence

BJP leaders reject the allegations. Former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said the Congress leaders “are crazy and mentally disturbed”. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai blasted the Congress for its misdeeds when it ruled Karnataka.

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