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It is Yeddi trouble again in Karnataka and 50 rebels led by the Chief Minister’s closest friend, K S Eshwarappa are in New Delhi seeking a change in the leadership. This appears to be a serious problem for B S Yeddyurappa as he faces his biggest dissent from within his party ever since he came to power. BJP sources in Karnataka say, “it has gone from bad to worse for the Chief Minister.
K S Eshwarappa, the state BJP president, the Reddy brothers of Bellary, senior leader Jagadish Shettar are all in New Delhi seeking a change in the leadership. Round one of the meeting was with Nithin Gadkari who according to the rebels gave them a patient hearing. Gadkari had however said later that there shall be no change in guard. The next round of meetings will be held with L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley.
The rebels are really pushing their case hard and think this is their best chance to get Yeddyurappa out of the hot seat. Yeddyurappa has had a host of allegations of corruption against him and this is the major point that the rebels are pushing. Apart from this they also say that he has become too arrogant and does not give his own party leaders a hearing. In addition to this they feel that Yeddyurappa is giving away too much to those leaders who have joined the BJP from other parties while their own party men are waiting for important posts.
However the biggest set back for the Chief Minister of Karnataka is the court order of Thursday. The special court which was hearing corruption cases against Yeddyurappa has ordered the Lokayukta police to probe the case. The rebels feel that this is would be their trump card since a court will refer a matter for probe only if it feels that there is a prima facie case on hand.
However Yeddyurappa who is in Bangalore appears to be unfazed by all these developments. He refuses to accept that there is a crisis on hand and says that the party leaders are in Delhi to seek more funds for the state. When asked about the leaders camping in Delhi, he had this to say, “ they are in the national capital to speak with senior leaders. There is no rebellion and they have gone there with my permission.”
On a lighter note, the controversial Lokayukta of Karnataka, Justice N Satosh Hegde says, “ I am in the news even when I keep quiet.” This was a reference to the remarks by the Law Minister of India, Veerappa Moily who had said that the Lokayukta’s actions against the corrupt were superficial and he can do more. Moily was however quick to retract and said that he had been quoted out of context.
Justice Hegde is however not amused with these comments and says clearly that that he would not make life miserable for the BJP just because the Congress wants him to do it.
Sir, you are back in the news once again.
(Laughs) Yes I am. Do you think it is a good thing (laughs again)
The Law Minister has said that he was quoted out of context and what was printed was wrong. What do you have to say about this?
The Union Law Minister has apologized in writing. He has also stated the same in the press. So I guess the matter is closed now and I do not think dignity permits me to take the matter forward any more.
He had said that the actions by you are superficial and you are not doing enough. What are your thoughts on this?
I don’t think he needs to tell me what I am doing. If he has information then he is free to give it to me. I will act upon it. He is wrong when he makes such statements and I am not the one who has been just issuing statements.
Considering that such a statement is coming from a law minister of the country, how does that make you feel?
I do not need a certificate from him. Let the people of the state give me a certificate. I will be content with that.
Does it put more pressure that such statements are coming from a law minister of the country?
Why should it as long as I am doing my job? It is a democracy and everyone talks and so he is free to talk too. However when a person in authority talks loosely it is unbecoming of a person holding such a high position. Let his talk statistics and give me information. I will not hesitate to act upon it.
Do you think Moily has an understanding of the office of the Lokayukta?
(laughs). He thinks the Lokayukta is all permissive. As a law minister he should know what my powers are and up to what extent I can act. Being in such a position he would do well to give the Lokayukta more powers and enhance the institution instead of making such lose statements. It looks like he has forgotten what my powers are.
Were you representing him in the JMM bribery scam?
Yes I was. Moily has forgotten that I had represented him in that Rs 3.5 crore scam. He should also remember that I had not charged him a single penny when I represented him in that case.
Going by the statements of Moily it appears that he was trying to say that you had not acted upon the scams in which the Chief Minister of Karnataka, B S Yeddyurappa was involved in.
He should not talk without knowing the facts. For them it may be politics, but for me it is not. I will act when there is proof and I am not going to make life miserable for the Chief Minister only because the Congress wants me to. That is not my job. I will act without hesitation when there is a strong case on hand. I will not step aside from doing that.
Karnataka was shaken up a year and a half back when 37 Churches in the state were attacked. This attracted the attention of the people from across the country and there was a hue and cry over this issue. The events leading up to this too were interesting, with the first BJP government in south India coming under fire for not protecting the interests of the Christian minority in Karnataka.
A commission of Inquiry headed by Justice Somashekhara was set up and in his report recently, he gave a clean chit to the BJP government, the Bajrang Dal and the Ram Sena stating that there was nothing to indicate that they were behind these attacks. The Christians were obviously not amused and they set up a parallel fact finding commission headed by Justice Micheal F Saldanha who was a former judge of the Karnataka High Court. In his report he blames the government entirely for this fiasco. In this interview with rediff.com, Justice M F Saldanha says that there is not a single incident of conversion that has taken place in the state. He further goes on to add that Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa holds a public office and cannot continue to behave like an RSS pracharak.
Can you tell us a bit about your report?
I have basically held the government responsible for this fiasco. There are about 37 incidents that have been report and 7 have been on a very high level. In these 7 incidents there was a lot of violence and the police are the ones who added to this. It was the police who turned violent in these incidents and hence I blame the state machinery for this.
The police were only doing their job and were controlling the mob. Do you agree?
No I do not agree with this. An operation of this magnitude cannot be undertaken unless there is a backing from the state government and I have pointed this out in my report.
There are various attempts to link the Chief Minister and the then Home Minister to the persons who carried out the attack- the Bajrang Dal and the RSS.
Why don’t you look at the background of the Chief Minister and the then Home Minister. They are RSS pracharaks. When they hold official positions, they cannot subscribe to the views of the RSS. This is just not done. These people had gone to Mangalore following the attack. Not a word of sympathy was expressed. The Home Minister had camped at Mangalore, Udupi and Kalladka for a long time during that period. A very powerful person in the RSS resides at Kalladka and it is common knowledge that the CM and the HM go and prostrate before him over there.
How strong was the role of the Bajrang Dal in that incident?
Very strong, I would say. The Bajrang Dal openly has admitted to this incident and now the head of the outfit Mahendra Kumar says that he had been asked to do it. The CM has a responsibility and he should have ensured that the people of the state were protected.
Now coming to the Justice Somashekhar report. What do you think of it?
When there are 37 incidents of attacks, how could he have given such a report? The report is not yet out in the open in full and some people who have glanced through this report say that all the material has been produced before the commission despite which such a report has been put out.
If you recollect, he had said in the interim stage that he blamed the saffron groups for this incident. Then what changed at the end of it?
In the interim stage he has blamed the government and the saffron groups. When he came out with the interim report, the CM had held a press conference and said that such a report ought not to have been given out. He also goes on to say that the judge shared it with the media before he could with the government. Justice Somashekhara then said that there was no harm in him doing so. The Chief Minister then goes on to say that this was a commission set up by them and they did not expect the report to go against them. Further he also says that he would wind up the commission. When the CM resorted to this arm twisting, Justice Somashekhara was shaken up and he wrote to the CM asking for time. The threat to wind up the commission did him in which forced him to give out such a report.
All these aspects aside Justice Saldanha, what do you have to say about the charges of conversions in Karnataka?
I have dealt with the conversion aspect in detail. I have asked the CM whether there have been any complaints of conversion prior to September 2008. Have any cases been registered or are they any cases which are under investigation? I also go on to ask if there have been any convictions. There have been none. However post 2008 a few cases were filed and we got to know later that all these were false. So basically these were cover up cases.
What about the issue of foreign funds being pumped in fund conversions?
We have checked this aspect as well. If foreign money had come in, it would have been under the purview of FERA and there is no such instance. Small sums have come in and these have not been misused. It has been used for the betterment of hospitals and educational institutions.
Would you suggest a ban on Bajrang Dal and RSS?
No, I would not. That is not the solution. Regulating them would be the solution. The BJP can do it. It is a credible national party and the heads of the state have to exercise the power to control communal activity.
Do you think that the minorities are insecure with this BJP government in the state?
Minorities have never been as insecure as they are today. The Muslims are very heavily targeted in coastal belt. Muslim community is being singled out. This has never happened in the past. Communal sentiment is out of control. The Chief Minister goes to temples and other mutts and announces large donations. Till date he has donated Rs 3000 crore. Public money cannot be used like this. Why has he not donated it to other religious institutions?
Are you trying to say that there has not been a single case of conversion in Karnataka?
In this day and age no one does things like this. Religion is a personal choice and people are too busy to do things like this. If there is a charge then the onus is on them to prove it. Taking the law into their hands is not the solution.
What do you propose doing with your report?
The Home Minister’s office never gives me time. They always say he is busy. I intend giving it to the governor who I hope will pass it on to the Chief Minster. Let us what happens then.
In a major relief to the B S Yeddyurappa government, a three judge Bench of the Karnataka High Court on Monday upheld the order of the Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly who had suspended five independent MLAs.
Justices Abdul Nasir, Mohan Shanthan Goudar and A S Bopanna in a unanimous verdict held that the order of the Speaker is right and not malafide. Further the Bench also held that the speaker was within his right to suspend the MLAs and added that his actions are nopt violative of the constitution.
Five independent MLAs who were part of the BJP government had broken away from the government. The speaker suspended these MLAs and barred from voting during the trust vote.
The independents stated that they were part of the government and not the party and hence suspending them for anti party actiovities does not arise.
The speaker however said that they had plledged support to the party obeyed the whips issued in the past and also took part in legislature party meetings. Hence he had the right to suspend them.
The matter pertaining to the 5 independent MLAs went before a three judge bench of the Karnataka High Court and the bench had reserved orders on the matter when it came up for final hearing last week.
There is another petition pertaining to the rebel BJP MLAs numbering 11 which has been reserved for orders by the Supreme Court of India.
In the matter of the 11 BJP MLAs a division bench of the High Court gave divergent views.Chief Justice, Kehar Singh upheld the order of the speaker, but Justice N Kumar gave a divergent view of the same. The matter then went up to a third judge who also upheld the order of the Speaker which meant that they remained suspended from the House.
The political crisis in Karnataka does not seem to end and come Monday it will be back to the boil yet again. A three judge bench of the Karnataka High Court comprising Justices Abdul Nasir, Mohan Shanthan Goudar and A S Bopanna will deliver or pronounce its verdict regarding the 5 suspended MLAs at 4 PM on Monday and all eyes are on that verdict.
When 16 MLAs, 11 of who were from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party had rebelled against the party, the speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly had suspended them. This had reduced the strength of the 224 member Karnataka Legislative Assembly and the magic number for the government to survive was 106 which included the vote of the speaker.
This resulted in a lot of drama and there were two back to back trust votes and B S Yeddyurappa managed to win both of them. However the suspended MLAs decided to challenge the verdict before the court. The matter pertaining to the 11 BJP MLAs resulted in a lot of drama with a division bench of the High Court giving divergent views. The Chief Justice, Kehar upheld the order of the speaker, but Justice N Kumar gave a divergent view of the same. The matter then went up to a third judge who also upheld the order of the Speaker which meant that they remained suspended from the House. This matter is now being heard in the Supreme Court of India.
Meanwhile the matter pertaining to the 5 independent MLAs went before a three judge bench of the Karnataka High Court and the bench had reserved orders on the matter when it came up for final hearing last week.
Following this verdict there is expected to be plenty of drama in the political circles. The Yeddyurappa camp have a bag of tricks up their sleeve in case the order goes against them. If the court were to rule against the order of the speaker then the number in the house will go up to 213 which means the BJP will need 107 MLAs on its side to survive. In reality the BJP has 105 MLAs on its side and the one vote of the speaker will come into the picture only in case of a tie. This would mean that the BJP will need the support of two more MLAs in order to save its government. The BJP will bank heavily on the vote of Varthur Prakash an indepdent MLA who had voted in their favour during the last trust vote. They would be hoping that he would do the same for them this time too.
However the biggest ace up the sleeve of the BJP is an order regarding 8 MLAs which has been kept in abeyance. The Speaker had issued notices to 8 MLAs on account of unruly behaviour and the order has been kept in abeyance. As per the law the speaker can suspend these MLAs for a period of one year on account of disrupting proceedings which means they will not be able to participate in the proceedings. The BJP is likely to exercise this option in case the going gets tough for them.
A S Ponnanna, counsel for the 5 independent MLAs says that their contention before the court was that they were never part of the party but were only part of the government. We never lost our independent status and hence the speaker is wrong when he issued the order of suspension on account of defecting from the BJP. We are hopeful that this order will go in our favour, but it will not be right to sit in judgment now.
On the other hand Vivek Reddy representing the speaker and the BJP says, “ I think we have a winning case and we hope that the court will do justice in the matter. Our argument was always that the 5 independents had become part of party since they took part in the legislature meetings and had also accepted the party whops and voted in accordance with the whips several times. The real purpose of defection is to ensure that the people’s mandate is not defeated.
While all eyes are on the verdict of the High Court on Monday, there is also a lot of interest that the special court hearing the case of the land scam has generated. BJP insiders point out that a lot would depend on the verdict of this case. The arguments at the moment are pertaining to the admissibility of the case and there is a good chance that if the matter is admitted B S Yeddyurappa may dissolve the house following the budget session on February 24th.
In this case two petitions had been filed by two lawyers before the Governor of Karnataka, H R Bharadwaj who in turn accorded sanction to prosecute the Chief Minister in connection with a land scam.
Chief Minister of Karnataka B S Yeddyurappa who has been accused of scams worth over a few 1000 crores has cash to the tune of Rs 4071782. This is as per the assets and liabilities declared by him on Sunday at Bangalore.
The Chief Minister who has been criticized several times for various scams had said two days back that he would be declaring his assets and liabilities in public so that it puts an end to all the speculation regarding him. He has also handed out a copy to the Bharatiya Janata Party high command.
In his assets and declaration the Chief Minister also says that he has one Contessa car and a Scorpio. Apart from this he has 2.5 kilograms of gold. He also goes on to list the number of houses he has, the land owned by him and also the shares he has in some companies.
In his declaration he says that he has two houses at Shikaripura which is his home town and constituency. Apart from this he also owns a House at the RMV II stage in Bangalore.
He says that he has agricultural land in Channahalli among other places. He says that he has 4.16 acres of agriculture land in Channahalli, 5.02 acres in Tirumalapaura and 9.12 acres of agriculture land in Shiralikoppal
In addition to this he has also declared that he has one Contessa car and a Scorpio. The gold which he has is around 2.5 kilograms, the CM further declared.
Yeddyurappa further states that he has 100 shares in a company known as Softech, 70 shares in a company named Kethan and 50 shares at Zeenat Infotech. In addition to this he has household things worth Rs 10 lakh and an LIC policy worth Rs 1.7 lakh. The details of his bank holding are as follows:
Apex Bank Vidhan Soudha branch, Bangalore- Rs 17.92 lakh Corporation Bank, Sadashiva Nagar- Rs 5.24 lakh Karnataka Bank, Shiralikoppal Branch- Rs 7.31 lakh Shiva Cooperative Bank, Shiralikoppal Branch- Rs 1,782 Urban Bank– Rs 46,000 State Bank of Mysore, Shimoga- Rs 7.58 lakh Canara Bank, Shiralikoppal, Rs 2.19 lakh Vijaya Bank- Rs 0
Yeddyurappa had hoped that once he declared these assets in public, he would be able to clear out his name. He is already facing various charges of corruption. There is a Lokayukta probe into the various lands that were allegedly denotified by him. Apart from this there is an independent commission of inquiry probing several charges. Very recently the Governor of Karnataka too had granted sanction to prosecute Yeddyurappa in connection with the above mentioned cases. That case is now being heard by a special court in Bangalore.
The opposition has however not taken too lightly the declaration of assets and liabilities of Yeddyurappa. H D Kumaraswamy, former Chief Minister of Karnataka and JD(S) leader said that there is nothing new in it and he fails to understand why such an issue is being made out of this. He says that it is mandatory for every MLA to declare his assets and liabilities. He however added that he would be more interested in knowing about the denotification of lands in favour of his sons and also on how Yeddyurappa managed to procure all that he has just declared.
Seeking to drag matters further, another application has been filed before the Special Sessions court seeking a direction to produce former Chief Minister and Janata Dal (S) leader, H D Kumaraswamy before it.
The application filed before the Special Sessions court which is hearing two complaints filed against B S Yeddyurappa in connection with a land scam states that unless Kumaraswamy is brought before the court proceedings cannot continue. The applicant states that there is an allegation made against Yeddyurappa stating that he had denotified land at Rachenahalli in order to favour his family members. The new application before the court states that the facts have been jumbled and Yeddyurappa had denotified only a small portion of the land. However the major portion of the land was denotified by Kumaraswamy who was the CM before Yeddyurappa and strangely his name does not figure in this complaint.
This application which has been filed under Section 319 says that offences should not be made selective and all those involved in illegalities should be brought before the same forum and justice should be equal to all.
The court will hear this application on January 31 when it commences proceedings next. On the same day it will also hear an application filed by the son-in-law of Yeddyurappa and also the main case filed by the two advocates who are seeking prosecution of the Karnataka Chief Minister in connection with 15 charges pertaining to various land scams.
CM had no moral right to continue: Congress
The Congress in Karnataka has decided to hold a mammoth rally in Bangalore demanding the dismissal of the B S Yeddyurappa government. The Congress says that it would hold this rally on January 30th at the Palace Grounds in Bangalore where scores of people are likely to attend.
The rally is being held to step up the pressure to dismiss the B S Yeddyurappa led BJP government in Karnataka. The Congress says that the CM had no moral right to continue after the Governor had accorded sanction to prosecute him.
B S Yeddyurappa, Chief Minister of Karnataka finds himself in yet another controversy and he will wait with bated breath for the decision of the Special Court which will start hearing the matter at 2 PM on Monday.
So, what will the special court hear today and what the charges that the Karnataka Chief Minister will have to answer to? The scam as alleged in the complaint is to the tune of Rs 189.71 crore and this amount is divided into 15 different cases which will be heard by the court today.
1.16 acres of land under Sy Number 56 at K R Puram were denotified in the year 2008 and was transferred to M/s Davalagiri Property Developers Private Limited. The land worth Rs 7.4 crore was transferred to this company in which the Chief Minister’s sons and son-in-law are 75 per cent share holders.
2.A road measuring 47,972 sq ft in Vyalikaval HBCS Nagawara was illegally amalgamated and the same was purchased by M//s Davalagiri Property Developers. The company gained Rs 16.26 crore due to this.
3.An acre and 2 guntas of land under survey number 55/2 at K R Puram was denotified and the gain in this was Rs 19.6 crore.
4.2 acres and 5 guntas of land was denotified at the Arkare village. Out of this 1.75 acres was sold to a close associate of the Chief Minister who gained Rs 25.39 crore due to this.
5.9 guntas in survey number 10/1 and 14 guntas in survey number 10/11F of Lottegollahalli, Bangalore was denotified 14 guntas of land in survey number 10/11F was denotified in favour of home minister R Ashoka.
6.Conversion of agricultural lands in Anekal taluk to non-agricultural purpose by modifying zoning regulations was beneficial to M/s Bhagath Homes Pvt Ltd and M/s Davalagiri Property Developers Pvt Ltd, both promoted by CM’s family members. The companies benefited Rs 3 and Rs 2.5 crore due to this.
7.2 acres and 5 guntas of land in survey number 149 of Agara village was denotified in January 2010. 16,000 sq ft and 5,000 sq ft, was sold M/s Elyon Developers Pvt Ltd represented by its director S S Ugendar for Rs 1.76 crore and Rs 44 lakh respectively. Bangalore Development Authority incurred a loss of Rs 74.05 crore due to this.
8.CM allots 100 acres of land at Machenahalli-Honnavile Industrial area, Shimoga district, in favour of M/s E Rama Murthy Power Pvt Ltd promoted by Praveen Chandra. He also granted mining lease for iron ore and manganese ore in 330 acres in Ramajjanahalli Kaval and Mallapura villages of Hosadurga taluk in favour of Praveen Chandra.
9.11 acres and 25 guntas in survey number 15/1 and 15/2 of Srirampura village denotified to benefit M/s Besto Infrastructure Bangalore Pvt Ltd, whose promoter is a partner with the CM’s family in Davalagiri Property Developers Pvt Ltd. Land. The land was denotified in favour of Dr B R Shetty, who in turn sold 2 acres and 20 guntas to Besto Infrastructure Bangalore for Rs 3.75 crore when the market price was Rs 54.45 crore.
10.33 guntas in survey number 21/3 of Kempapura village, 1 acre 36 guntas in survey number 6/2A, 23 guntas in survey number 6/2C and 23 guntas in survey number 6/2B in Hebbala Ammanikere was denotified to benefit Prakash Shetty of M/s Trishul Developers.
11.The CM denotified 9 acres of land at Rachenahalli and the owners of these lands sold 1 acre 23.2 guntas for Rs 2.55 crore to M/s Health Zone Advisors (India) Pvt Ltd when the market value was Rs 34.41 crore.
12.10 acres in survey number 121 of Uttarahalli village was denotified on the request of BJP MLA Dr Hemachandra Sagar.
13.5 acres and 13 guntas of land in survey number 78 of Nagarbhavi village denotified in violation of Supreme Court and High Court orders causing loss of Rs 115 crore to the BDA.
14.Illegal allotment of a site in RMV II Stage, Bangalore, by CM in favour of his son B Y Raghavendra. This property was however returned when the allegations started to pour in.
15.Allegation that the CM helped Adarsh Developers and took favours in return to the tune of Rs 5 crore.
Adding another twist to the proceedings against Karnataka Chief Minsiter B S Yeddyurappa, his son in law Suhan Kumar has filed an application seeking stalling of the proceedings. The special court which is hearing the two complaints has directed Kumar to file his objections by January 31 when the case comes up next for hearing.
When proceedings commenced this afternoon the CMs son in law said in his application that the matter cannot go on without him being heard. Kumar who is also a party to the proceedings said that he ought to be given a right of hearing.
C H Hanumantharaya coinsel for the two complainants however argued that this case was between a private party and the court and hence such an application could not be entertained.
The court however said that he be given a chance and permitted him to file his objections. The matter will come up next on January 31.