Former Karnataka CM Dharam Singh passes away

dharam_singhFormer chief minister of Karnataka, N Dharam Singh passed away today. He was 80. He passed away after suffering a heart attack. Singh was admitted to hospital and was undergoing treatment at the M S Ramaiah Memorial hospital in Bengaluru. He passed away at 9 am on Thursday.

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Why the BJP did not make the Cauvery issue political?

Pic: thehindu.com

There are protests galore in Karnataka over the Cauvery issue and there appears to be no solution in sight with farmers only intensifying their protest with each passing day. The Cauvery Waters issue has always been political in Karnataka and those who have defied Tamil Nadu’s demands have always made gains politically.

A question that many would ask is why the BJP in Karnataka did not capitalise on the issue and defy the release of water. While any such move by Karnataka would have earned the wrath of the Supreme Court, it would have still have been beneficial for any party politically.

The fact is that the Karnataka BJP which rules Karnataka had first planned on defying the order of the Cauvery River Waters Authority which ordered the release of 9000 cusecs to Tamil Nadu. Even after the Supreme Court rap, many leaders in the state had said that they should stand by the demands of the farmers and defy the order even at the risk of losing power. Continue reading “Why the BJP did not make the Cauvery issue political?”

Illegal mining a criminality started under Congress

Photo courtesy: aidprojects.org

The great Isaac Newton said, “If I could look beyond it is by standing on the shoulders of the giant.” To bring down the powerful mining lobby in Karnataka which looted the state while abusing power shamelessly was no ordinary task. It was the various reports and the petitions filed before the Supreme Court of India by S R Hiremath which finally brought the ones involved in the multimillion crore mining scam to justice.

The 66 year old Hiremath, an engineering graduate who was working in the United States of America returned to India in the year 1979. He has been an activist since the past 30 years and is the founder of the  Samaja Parivarthana Samudaya (SPS) in Dharwad in 1984. It was the petitions filed by him that put former Chief Minister of Karnataka, B S Yeddyurappa in a spot of bother as a result of which the Central Bureau of Investigation started to probe his case.  The gross misuse of power in Karnataka is only second to the emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi, says Hiremath. Hiremath says in this interview with rediff.com that illegal mining is a criminality which was started under the Congress regime of S M Krishna thanks to his then cabinet minister, D K Shivakumar and this is a fact we plan on exposing with enough evidence in the month of August before the Supreme Court of India.

Are you satisfied with the way things have turned out. Reddy is in jail and Yeddyurappa is mired in a CBI probe for illegal mining.

I came back here from the United States many years back so that I took take up various issues and lead a responsible life. The fight has been tough the path very hard, but yes I am satisfied today although there is a lot more work remaining.

Bellary had its own constitution and has been named as the Republic of Bellary. Were you under threat when you were going about doing your work on illegal mining?

It is kind of surprising even for me that there were hardly any threats. The Reddy brothers are very rough and murderous people in some ways. It is surprising that as of today there have been no threat call made to me or any of my other friends working with me from the Reddy brothers. There are both men and women working in the field on this issue and they have not been threatened. However there was one threat call which was made to a friend of mine from the supporters of B S Yeddyurappa. I feel this may have to do with the fact that we are committed to development of the rural folk and we have conducted ourselves in a proper manner which is probably the reason why we have not been threatened.

How difficult was it to deal with this issue considering the money involved was obscene?

I would not say it was one bit easy. It required a lot of ground work. What I noticed is that after the emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi where the press was muscled and people were sent to jail without a trial, Karnataka came only second to the gross misuse of power. The previous generations have given their lives for freedom and it is our duty to preserve it. What I have realized is that fear and democracy can never go hand in hand. Illegal mining commenced with D K Shivakumar under S M Krishna and then continued with Gali Janardhan Reddy under B S Yeddyurappa. This was a challenge to expose all this and it was staring into our face. This was a challenge and we decided to take it up. We may or may not reach a logical conclusion, but we will keep trying.

Has illegal mining come to a halt today?

Illegal mining as far as I know has come to a grinding halt barring some unusual circumstances. This is only thanks to the Central Empowerment Committee and the Supreme Court of India. More importantly the manner in which the orders were implemented were also commendable. Reddy’s administration was disabled and mining was stopped. It was necessary that mining was banned in Karnataka in order for the agencies to probe it properly. The CEC had in fact stated that it would not be wise to ban mining, but we insisted that it be done in order to curb further illegalities and investigate properly.

There is always this allegation that B S Yeddyurappa got caught while S M Krishna managed to get away. What are your thoughts about this?

Although Yeddyurappa and Krishna represent two different worlds there is hardly any difference in what went on during their respective regimes. It was during Krishna’s regime that the criminality of illegal mining started under D K Shivakumar. There was total misuse and abuse of power. This was continued during the B S Yeddyurappa regime.

Despite you saying this why has Krishna gotten away?

He has not. You should understand that it is important that all the evidence has to be meticulously brought in together. What has been happening against the Krishna regime is that people are merely throwing in the charges and that is good enough in a court of law. When there is no proper evidence there is no point in going before the court. I personally do not venture into something unless I have impeccable evidence. At the time we went to court there was no proper evidence against Congressman D K Shivakumar who was a big player in the Krishna government.
So, are they let off the hook or are you planning on doing something about it?

Wait until July. We have over the last seven months collected a lot of material against D K Shivakumar. There is now evidence against Shivakumar and we will go ahead and file it. You can be rest assured that we shall spare none involved in this. We did not want to go before the court, merely file charges and get the petition thrown out. Remember when one goes before the court seeking justice, the onus is on us to give evidence and that is what we are doing. We have no personal hatred against anyone, be it Yeddyurappa or Krishna. In our petitions in July we plan on combing both the Krishna and Dharam Singh regimes of the Congress. Dharam Singh did nothing but continued to support the criminal acts committed by the earlier regime of Krishna. And yes before you ask, let me also tell you that the cases of illegal mining during the regime of H D Kumaraswamy are also being taken up. We do not want to cut a sorry figure before the court when we take up these cases. We will deal with them exactly in the manner in which we dealt with the cases against Yeddyurappa and his ministers. This kind of criminality has to be dealt with a firm hand or else it will become a banana republic.

Despite all this Janardhan Reddy tried to bribe a judge in Andhra Pradesh. The illegalities may have come down, but why hasn’t the mind set changed?

That is a very good point that you raise. We have submitted many a document before the court and these do reveal the modus operandi of the illegal mining community. This poses a great threat and threatens to break down the rule of law. We have often said that the major cause for the break down is the mind set that these people have. They thought and continue to think that everything is purchasable and this will change very soon. Our future admissions before the Supreme Court would be on these aspects and we also plan on bringing in the names of 40 prominent traders and also the manner in which they misused the system. This will have to change or else you will continue to have the likes of the Lads and the Shivkumars from the Congress leading a protest against illegal mining, which according to me is the biggest joke.

The Lokayukta report on illegal mining was virtually thrown out by the High Court, while the Supreme Court whole heatedly acted on the one you submitted on the subject of illegal mining. Why is this the case?

I have always believed in Newton’s theory that if I could look beyond it is by standing on the shoulder of the giant. The more important thing is that we need to bring in justice. In the past three decades I have seen many reports. But let me tell you that the reports of Justice Santhosh Hegde in the years 2008 and 2011 have been the best. One must not forget that the meticulous job done by him and his team, the raids and also the seizure of documents helped us a great deal in the taking the matter up to the Supreme Court. While the ground work was laid by the Lokayukta, what we did further was find clinching evidence which was missing. The work done by the Lokayukta and later by us should be seen as developments in sequence which led us to this ultimately. The lack of time the events of paramount importance in which Justice Hegde’s team was criminally intimidated did not deter him and he went on with his work. In his first report he names Dharam Singh, but as far as the higher illegalities of Shivakumar under Krishna were not brought to the forefront probably for want of evidence. These aspects will be covered by us.

B Sriramulu is another major player in this scam. However he appears to be on a roll where he can come out of the BJP and trounce his former party in a by-poll. Your thoughts sir.

As far as I am concerned we are enemies of any particular party. The CBI is probing this case and I am sure they will get to him too. There is monumental evidence against him despite that with no shame he says that they had given Rs 2000 crore to BJP to fight elections in Karnataka apart from Rs 10 crore every month. Now where has this kind of money come from? There is mine known as Lakshmi mines which belong to Sriramulu and his wife. When the commercial taxes officer goes to find out why the tax had not been paid, he gets a flurry of calls from officials. In fact one of the officials even had the audacity to tell the commercial tax official that he should get out of the premises. All this indicate that he too is guilty in the scam. Law has its limitations and takes it own course and trust me the CBI is waiting to get to him.

What changes do you see in the administration in Karnataka today?

Not much really. We have knocked on the doors of the Supreme Court to seek justice and we have got it. However one cannot expect the Supreme Court to run the government of Karnataka and I am afraid that it is not functioning at the moment. The government has to run on its own. Why has a Lokayukta not been appointed as yet? That to me is criminal neglect.

Setback for S M Krishna

The Karnataka High Court on Friday ordered that the Lokayukta could investigate the case against S M Krishna to the extent of dereservation of forest blocks, a decision he is said to have taken in the year 2003 when he was Chief Minister of Karnataka. Justice N Ananda who also passed an order on H D Kumaraswamy ordered that the Lokayukta could probe the allegation that he had shown favour to a company called Sai Venkateshwara Minerals.
This would mean that the stay on the investigation against the two former CM’s has been lifted and the Lokayukta police can probe the matter.
The case to be probed against S M Krishna would involve the dereservation of 34 forest blocks which is said to have facilitated illegal mining.
A private complaint had been filed against S M Krishna, H D Kumaraswamy and Dharam Singh under various sections including the  Prevention of Corruption Act, Forest Conservation Act, Forest Act and Minerals and Metals Regulation and Development Act (MMRDA) and IPC. The complainant T Abraham had alleged that Krishna, who was the Chief Minister from October 1999 to May 2004, and Dharam Singh and Kumaraswamy permitted illegal mining for pecuniary gains.
Abraham, a city-based social activist and a businessman, had submitted that his complaint was based on the report on illegal mining presented to the government by then Lokayukta Santosh Hegde in August.
When the complaint was take up first by the Lokayukta court, it had ordered investigation of the same. The police then filed a FIR after which the accused persons in the case approached the High Court and later obtained a stay order.

Justice Ananda also ordered that no investigation against Krishna would take place in case of the Mysore Minerals case. The grant of permission to mine in this case was questioned but the court observed that this decision falls under the Companies Act and would not come under the purview of the Chief Minister.
In so far as Kumaraswamy’s case the court ordered that the 150 crore bribery charge made by Janardhan Reddy shall not be probed. This was ordered in view of Reddy withdrawing an earlier petition he had filed in connection before the High Court in connection with the same case.

SMK plea adjourned

The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday adjourned hearing on a petition filed by External Affairs Minister, S M Krishna. Justice B V Pinto is likely to take up the matter for hearing tomorrow.
Krishna against whom an FIR was lodged in connection with the illegal mining case had moved the High Court challenging proceedings against him.
Meanwhile the Lokayukta police which filed FIRs against Krishna and two other former Chief Ministers of Karnataka, Dharam Singh and H D Kumaraswamy continued their probe based on the private complaint filed against the trio. They say that there is no stay on the investigation and are following the orders of the Special Lokayukta Court which has sought a report from them by January 6th.

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Krishna moves HC

Union External Affairs minister, S M Krishna has moved the Karnataka High Court against the order of the Lokayukta court which directed the police to investigate the case against him in connection with illegal mining. The lokayukta police had on Thirsday filed an FIR against Krishna, Dharam Singh and H d Kumaraswamy.
A private compalint had been filed seeking a directive to probe charges of facilitating companies which led to illegal mining in the state. it was alleged that the three persons during their tenure as Chief Ministers of Karnataka had shown  favour to some companies and also deserved forests to facilittate illegal mining as a result of which a loss to the exchequer of the state was caused. the matter before the high court is expected to be listed on Monday for hearing.

One can’t step down for every Pvt. Complaint-Justice Hegde

The moment a case is filed against a politician the instant reaction is to seek his resignation for which ever post he is holding. Yesterday it was the case of three former Chief Ministers of Karnataka against whom an FIR was lodged in connection with the illegal mining case.

The question is when should a person in power step down when certain charges are made against him. The case on hand dealt with a private complaint filed in the court of the Karnataka Lokayukta in which it was alleged that S M Krishna, N Dharam Singh and H D Kumaraswamy had helped certain companies carry out illegal mining activities as a result of which a huge loss was caused to the exchequer of the state. The Lokayukta police after filing an FIR will now prepare a report and submit the same by January 6 as per the directive of the court.

Justice Santhosh Hegde, former Lokayukta of Karnataka who filed a detailed report on illegal mining just before his retirement says that the issue of stepping down in the wake of an FIR being filed should be looked at in three different ways.

On the question as to why S M Krishna did not find a mention in his report, he said he did not wish to comment. I do not want politicians attributing anything to me and if I do speak on the issue then there is every chance that it would happen. All I can say is that my report speaks for itself and there is nothing more to it. I have probed each and every angle to the case and have put up a comprehensive report. Anything more spoken on the issue would be construed wrongly and it could be well said that I had left out some names on purpose in my report.

Regarding this issue of men in power stepping down after cases are filed against them, then it should be looked at in different ways. When there is a charge against a person in public life and the charge shows that his or her behaviour has been nothing but that of a corrupt one then in that case they ought to step down. I for one believe that the concept innocent until proven guilty should not hold good for public issues since these are issues involving moral turpitude.

The other thing that needs to be looked into is whether there is mere mud slinging against a person in public office. In such cases the no decision should be taken until the court frames charges. The police need to file an FIR, investigate the matter and then file a chargesheet with documentary evidence. Once the charges are studied by the court and the charges framed and a prima facie case is made out until then there should be no decision on the person stepping down. The point is that each complaint needs to be studied properly before any action is taken.

However what I would also like to add is that in cases where a private party has thrown a charge the question of stepping down does not hold good at all.

Lok Pal

Justice Hegde who is also part of the Lok Pak bill drafting panel says that he does not have much hope from the Bill. Something will come out today and according to me at every stage of the drafting process the government appears to have maintained that control regarding the appointment. I have my own apprehensions and I am sure it would be a watered down bill.

We are left with no option but to protest. However I don’t think protesting for a change in every section of the bill is feasible. Let us wait and see. If the need be we will seek an amendment accordingly.

FIR against Krishna and co.

In a set back to Union External affairs minister, S M Krishna, the Lokayukta police have filed an FIR against him in connection with the illegal mining case.
The FIR which is also filed against former CHief Ministers Dharam Singh and Kumaraswamy reads thus:
As per the orders of Addl. City Civil and Sessions Court in P.C.R.27/2011, on 08/12/2011 a case has been registered in Crime No. 63/2011 in Bangalore City Lokayukta Police Station under Sees. 13(l)(d)(e) of Prevention of Corruption Act -I5S4, Forests (Conservation) Act – 1980, u/s 104 and 104 (c) of Karnataka Forest Act,Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Act – 1957 and u/s 204, 405, 406,463, 465, 468, 471 r/w sec. 423 and 120(b) of Indian Penal Code against S.M.Krishna ,N.Dharam Singh, H.D.Kumaraswamy and others.
A private complaint had been filed alleging that Krishna, Dharam Singh and Kumaraswamy had shown favour as a result of which illegal mining prevailed during their tenures as Chief Ministers.

In addition to the three former Chief Ministers, FIRs were also filed against 11 bureucrats.
J Abraham, had filed a complaint in the court of Lokayukta judge N K Sudhindra Rao. The court had two weeks vack directed the police to probe the matter and submit a report by January 6.
the Lokayukta police say that they would start probing into the matter on the basis of this complaint. In order to commence the probe, they first needed to file a first information report. A report of the investigation would be submitted to the court on January 6th as per the order of the court.

Why no noise about SMK then?

Corruption in the office of the Lokayukta office is a huge matter of debate today. A finger has been pointed at the office and its officers on how they continued to book cases of corruption especially when their own officers were corrupt.

The entire issue blew out when an officer formerly associated with the Lokayukta spoke to the media about the corruption in the Lokayukta office. The most stinging of his revealations has been the one relating to the running of a protection cartel within the office of the Lokayukta office.

The officer Madhukar Shetty who today is away on study leave says that there was a protection cartel being run in the office of the Lokayukta. He said that some of the officers were extracting protection money and despite the matter being brought to the notice of the higher ups no action was taken.

The incidents that are being pointed out relate to the time when Justice Santhosh Hegde was the Lokayukta of Karnataka. After he submitted the mining report he has been in the line of fire especially from the ruling BJP in Karnataka which has been most affected by this report.

Justice Hegde however says that he had expected such a back lash. On Madhukar Shetty he says that he has a great deal of respect for Madhukar Shetty. He is too honest an officer and the problem with such persons is that they see everyone else as dishonest. He has got this feeling that each one is dishonest. I have had no complaints against him and trust me he is extremely honest. It is sad that his statements are being made use of by those people who have been affected by the mining report.

However I did not expect him to go to this extent. I find that there is a pattern involved in the manner in which the media has reported this. He had said these things during a discussion and the timing of the publication of these statements in the media are very interesting. This was a discussion of four months back. In my mining report I had named some journalists who had got kick backs from some companies who were involved in the mining scandal. This has ticked them off and hence these statements are being used against me. These statements are today being used for a collateral purpose and not journalistic purposes.

I am not saying that the Lokayukta office has been clean. I myself have said that there are black sheep in the department and each time the issue was brought to my notice, I have reacted and acted on it. In fact the mining report itself names 7 Lokayukta police officials and hence the allegation that I was blind to the problem is unfair.

The bigger allegation that Justice Hegde has been facing is about the names of former Chief Ministers, Dharam Singh and S M Krishna. Justice Hegde however defends himself and says that there are two mining reports and in the first one Dharam Singh had been named. The BJP says that I had let him off in the second report. What sense are they speaking? Show me where the second report lets him off. There should be some justification when they accuse me. About the name of S M Krishna, all I would like to ask the BJP is why they did not raise it when the first report came out in the first place. Why all the noise about him is being made today?

BJP drama drags on

The drama in Bangalore over the resignation of Chief Minizter continues and so far there is absoljtely no solution. BJP state President told the media a while ago that he is hopeful of a decision by tomorrow and also added that the high command would take the opinion of the MLAs before making a final call.
BJP leaders, Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh along with other senior leaders continued to meet with various factions in the BJP, Karnataka to find a solution to the ongoing crisis. Yeddyurappa has made it clear to them he will not be stepping down immediately unless some of this demands have been met. Sources say that he has changed a couple of his demands and says that a candidate of his should at least be made the Deputy Chief Minister while he should be given the post of party president in the state. However there is opposition in some circles to appointing a deputy chief minister. However Eshwarappa who is also a hopeful for the post of Chief Minister said that he is unaware of any such demands. There may be demands, but the high command has not conveyed anything to me about that.
All MLAs will give their opinions about this issue to the party seniors tomorrow and I can say with confidence that there is no split in the party as is being made out to be. Every family has its own problems and we are having some too today. However I am confident that we will tide over this crisis with ease, he also said. Yeddyurappa is a good leader and he has a lot of regard for the party. I am sure he will not go against the decision of the high command. This statement is completely contrary to what the Yeddyurappa followers have been saying. They continue to rally behind Yeddyurappa and say that the high command must reconsider its decision since the Lokayukta report is biased and does not make out a strong case against the JD(S) and the Congress who are also involved in illegal mining. Eshwarappa was however not critical of the Lokayukta report. He said on several ocassions the opposition has demanded the resignation of Yeddyurappa, but the party never inisisted that he quit. We had however said that any leader would have to step down in case of an inditement by a court or the Lokayukta in any inquiry and hence this time the party high command has sought his resignation. He was however quick to add that despite the Lokayukta naming Dharam Singh in his first report, the Congress colluded with the Governor and got his name cleared when the matter was referred to the latter. The BJP has however not done anything to that effect, he added.
Meanwhile the BJP leaders from Delhi have their task cut out and they continue to meet with various leaders seeking their opinion. The discussions revolve largely round the resignation of Yeddyurappa and they are treading cautiously since it appears that Yeddyurappa would try and split the party by showing his strength with the number of MLAs he has got. There is also a growing demand by the anti Yeddyurappa faction who have been saying that the CM should step down or else the high command should initiate disciplinary action against him. Each of the factions have been claiming the support of 70 MLAs each despite the strenght of the BJP being just 121 in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly.
The high command has its task cut out and once they manage to resolve the Yeddyurappa issue they will need to look into the charges levelled by the Lokayukta against the Reddy brothers and their aide B Sriramulu. However there is not a word on that in the BJP circles since the entire focus is on the Chief Minister. B Sriramulu even issued a statement in which he said that there is no instruction from the high command for him to step down, but also added that he is ready to do so if the party demands.
There are at least four different meetings that are taking place in Bangalore. While Ananth Kumar and his men are in a seperate meeting, the Chief Minister has just returned to his official residence after meeting with the party leaders. On the other hand Singh and Jaitley held a meeting with Shobha Karandlage to take her views on the crisis. The same leaders also met with Eshwarappa with the same purpose. Party sources say that there should be some decision by tomorrow following which the legislature party meeting would be held. However it would all depend on whether they can convince Yeddyurappa to step down and unless he does, there will be no progress in this matter at all.

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