Ahead of critical assembly elections in Karnataka, the ruling BJP has suffered a major loss of face as one of its MLAs, Madalu Virupakshappa, is on the run after his son was arrested for accepting a bribe of Rs 40 lakhs.
With the opposition sharpening its knives, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been stunned into silence as the Lokayukta Police hunt for the MLA even as he is said to be pleading with colleagues to protect him from arrest.
The stink is hurting the BJP, which faces a stiff challenge in the upcoming elections.
Although Madalu Virupakshappa has resigned as the Chairman of the Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Ltd (KSDL), it was now been revealed that massive corruption took place in the organisation in 2022-23.
This involved purchase of raw materials at three to four times the market rate to the tune of more than Rs 800 crore.
Also read: Karnataka Lokayukta arrests BJP MLA’s son for taking ₹40L bribe, recovers ₹8 crore in raids
It has been three days since his son Prashanth Madali was caught while accepting a brine of Rs 40 lakhs to give assignments to contractors who were to supply chemicals.
There have also been violations of the Karnataka Transparency Act as no tenders were called. When they were invited, they were done hastily for the purchase of more than 15 raw materials.
According to informed sources, the MLA father allegedly made a deal with a contractor to supply chemicals with a provision for a Rs 81 lakh bribe, and his son was caught accepting half the amount.
Prashanth Madalu is an officer in the Commercial Taxes Department and was on deputation as Chief Accountant in the Bengaluru Water and Sewage Supplies Board (BWSSB).
He was suspended in 2017 after allegedly indulging in corruption valued at Rs 55 crores.
A union leader at the Karnataka Rural Infrastructure Development Ltd (KRIDL), GR Shivashankar, had filed a complaint with the Lokayukta on February 21, alleging that purchase rules, guidelines and store manual regulations were being violated.
The Fragrance and Flavour Development Center of the Central Government is meant to examine raw materials and fragrances.
But the union complained that raw materials and perfumes in KSDL were not inspected by this organization. In the process, the quality of raw materials was not maintained.
The management of the KSDL and unnamed officials as well as contractors were said to be charging higher rates than the market value and getting huge commissions.
This has led to huge losses to KSDL, the sources said.
Tenders were invited the purchase of 15 raw materials for products such as Sandal Mysore Core, Methyl, Sandalwood Oil and Geranium Oil.
The contractors reportedly quoted an additional rate over the prevailing market rates.
The union alleged that against the advice of the Finance Department, KSDL had not created departmental committees to check the defects in the raw materials purchased by it.
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The Lokayukta police have issued a lookout notice for the absconding Madalu Virupakshappa, who was known to be close to former chief minister BS Yediyurappa and those recent bonhomie with Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has reportedly irked the BSY camp. Officials said they do not want the MLA to flee the country.
He is said to have applied for anticipatory bail. Even he is on the run, he sent his resignation from KSDL to Bommai.
The Lokayukta Police have seized more than Rs 6 crores in cash from the MLA’s son.
Congress leader Siddaramiah has said the Central and Karnataka governments have joined together and decided that the Ministers, MLAs and Chairmen of Corporation Boards should collect bribes.
They know that this time they cannot win elections based on caste and religion, the opposition leader said.
If Bommai has any dignity, he must resign as chief minister the absconding MLA should be arrested, Siddaramiah added.
The Karnataka in-charge of BJP, Dharmendra Pradhan, met state leaders over the scandal on Saturday and Sunday and told them not to give statements to the media.
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The Federal tried to contact state BJP spokesman Mysuru Mahesh but he did not response.
According to BJP sources, the party’s central leadership has sought an explanation from Bommai and state president Nalin Kumar Kateel about the ugly episode.