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Congress Govt in Karnataka under cloud as two ministers accused of corruption 

D. K. Shivakumar, Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka

Bengaluru: Within three months of coming into power in Karnataka, the Siddaramaiah government has come under a cloud with at least two senior ministers being accused of indulging in “rampant bribery.”

Deputy chief minister and No.2 in the Cabinet, DK Shivakumar has been accused by the civil contractors’ association of demanding “15% commission” for clearing bills worth over Rs 2,700 crore which have been pending for over 28 months.

Bribes for postings

Agriculture minister N Cheluvarayaswamy is another minister who has come under the scanner for allegedly demanding bribes from senior department officials for transfers and plum postings. A letter allegedly signed by joint director VS Ashok and six others and submitted to the Governor, making allegations against Cheluvarayaswamy, has been termed “fake” by the chief minister and yet he has ordered a CID enquiry into the incident.

DK Shivakumar, who is already facing multiple corruption and money laundering cases filed by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate, finds himself on a sticky wicket as BBMP contractors association led by KT Manjunath has approached both the chief minister and the Governor with their complaint. They directly named Shivakumar in their plaint and said if the government did not release the long-pending payment, some of them may have to resort to “suicide” because of the financial distress they are facing.

Shivakumar defiant

A defiant Shivakumar denied having demanded a commission and said, “I’m not afraid of anyone making any kind of allegation. I will ask the officials to verify the bills and make payments only if the work is satisfactory.”

On contractor Hemanth’s demand that Shivakumar should take an “oath” before his family deity Nonavanikere Ajjayya that he had not demanded bribes, Shivakumar said he had “nothing to fear and that the contractors could take their complaint to even the Prime Minister or the President.”

Reacting to Siddaramaiah’s comment that the police had initiated an enquiry whether the letter sent to the Governor against Cheluvarayaswamy was genuine or fake, JD (S) leader and former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy asked whether he was casting aspersions on the Governor’s office in his eagerness to give a clean chit to his cabinet colleague.

Of late, “fakery” is very much in the news in Karnataka as some of the Congress legislators who had written a letter to Siddaramaiah complaining against some ministers later claimed that the letter was fake. However, based on the latter Siddaramaiah called a legislature party meeting and listened to the legislators’ grievances.

Senior legislators led by BR Patil accused some of the ministers of being “arrogant” and not giving them appointments despite repeated attempts. They also complained that the officials were not releasing funds for works in their constituencies on the pretext that the government’s priority was towards fulfilling the five guarantees made to the people and after that not much funds were left.

Following this meeting, chief minister Siddaramaiah obliged the party MLAs with hundreds of transfers and postings in the police and revenue departments. The move drew the opposition ire as former chief minister Basavaraj Bommai called it “a transfer bhagya” for the Congress legislators to mint money.

Also read: Siddaramaiah’s free rice scheme flops