In the thick of corruption


Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa seems to be the man of the moment. His tenure as the mukhya mantri has been filled with lots of not-so-good experiences. And on Monday, November 15th 2010, Yeddyurappa, in a sense, dug his own grave.

Yes, corruption is not so new to the country. It’s in our face all the time. But then again, it’s not very often that a top politician admits brazenly to it. Well, Yeddyurappa did.

The senior BJP man addressed a press conference, explaining his stand to the media after a local daily exposed a supposed land scam involving Yeddyurappa and his family. As it always happens, Yeddurappa had a string of documents with him, explaining land allotments made by previous chief ministers for their kin. (Very smart indeed. Surprising how such documents suddenly surface when fingers are pointed at you).

He continued to justify to the press persons that he had made no mistake in allotting land to his son (who is an MP) and to a company where his sons are directors. When asked why his MP-son was allotted land despite already owning land in the city (a Bangalore Development Authority rule for G-category which states sites can only be allotted to persons who do not already own land), the chief minister went on the defensive and ended up saying that he is only doing what previous chief ministers have done and that if what he had done was wrong, he would have to take back land allotted to a number of people. A valid question, indeed. Clever, Mr Yeddyurappa. He really hit the nail on the head.

Yes, a number of people in the state who have been allotted sites under the special G-category have not undersigned the fact that they already own sites, media persons included. This has been happening for years, and like Yeddyurappa said, he is only carrying the tradition and helping his own family in the process.

Unfortunately it is all going wrong for him. Even as Devegowda, H D Kumaraswamy, S M Krishna, Dharam Singh, the late J H Patel and many others have been named as people for who land has been denotified and allotted by the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board, Yeddyurappa is not helping by making these revelations, when he is himself in the wrong. What’s more, at the press conference, a stack of documents were handed out to the media. It names the various politicians who have previously received such land, detailed documents and so on. But the Chief Minister seems to have gotten carried away in the midst of it all, as he did not provide any information whatsoever about the allotments made for his sons and their company. The documents highlight names of R V Deshpande’s son, Devegowda’s relatives, Karnataka Olympic Association’s President K Govindaraj and so on. B Y Raghavendra and Vijendra’s name are not to be seen anywhere.

Is Yeddyurappa trying to play smart? Won’t Siddaramaiah or Kumaraswamy now dig out documents of the BJP and do a similar show? One really wonders what the chief minister is thinking at this point. If he so believes that he has done no wrong, why not come clean?

When Yeddyurappa said he is ready to constitute a committee headed by a retired Supreme Court judge, please note that he only meant that he was “ready to”. Intent. He didn’t see he is ‘going to’. It’s a big difference. He said he is ready to even hold discussions on this with Opposition on this entire matter.

And it isn’t like the Congress or JD(S) are any better. The Congress has outrightly refused an enquiry, saying they have done no wrong and that their papers are all clean. Again, a clever man Yeddyurappa. He knows that the entire band of netas are knee-deep in corruption. So if he wants to invite the Opposition for a discussion or setup an enquiry, of course they are not going to like the idea too much.

At this stage it is also meaningless to just demand Yeddyurappa’s resignation. Yes, as much as I would love to see a change in government itself, I think the state first needs to sort out its problems at the political level. When it’s clear that there are whole lot of illegal activities going on, that should really be the focus. But that will never end up being the focus, because our elected representatives are constantly waiting to pull the other down, in this case, asking Yeddyurappa to resign. A Raja resigned, Shashi Tharoor resigned, Ashok Chavan resigned, Vilasrao Deshmukh resigned, so you also resign. Their political motives are crystal clear.

It is unfortunate that the BJP has completely misused their first ever opportunity to govern a state in south India. It was a golden opportunity. But the cabinet only seems to be filled with tainted ministers, each with a land scam of their own. Yeddyurappa, instead of taking a chance at good governance, has chosen to only reap benefits for his party. As much as one feels bad for the people of the state, the real losers at the end of the day are these politicians. Like Ratan Tata asked, how do they sleep at night?

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