It was virtually a scam a day

It was virtually a scam a day

The scam-scarred politicians belonged to Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa’s coterie, but Yeddyurappa and his family members did not lag behind. For weeks together, Yeddyurappa remained on top of the news headlines, thanks to land scams.

The year has witnessed three Cabinet ministers resigning. No less than the Chief Minister was on the verge of losing his seat in the wake of serious allegations of nepotism, favouritism and profiting for self and supporters using the power to denotify land in Bangalore in violation of rules.

All was well for the ruling party at the beginning of the year. It basked in the glory of sweeping the elections to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike. But as the year progressed, Yeddyurappa and his government got entangled in controversies and scams.
The first minister to hit headlines for the wrong reasons was H Halappa, then Food & Civil Supplies Minister. In May, he had to quit as he was charged of raping his friend’s wife. Halappa resigned as minister immediately, but not before causing immense embarrassment to the government. The CID is still investigating the case.

Even before the ruling party could recover from the shock and damage caused by the sex scandal, the case of the missing of iron ore - in which five lakh tonnes of ore worth Rs 250 crore vanished from Belekeri port in Uttara Kannada district- came to light in June. The Lokayukta, probing into the mining scams, is also inquiring into the missing of ore as well. On the other hand, the government referred the case to CID, which is widely expected to weaken the case.

The Opposition used the opportunity to force the Chief Minister to admit the government’s lapse. The Opposition also staged a overnight dharna in both the Houses of the Legislature, to press its demand for action against illegal mining.
The Opposition’s sit-in the House culminated into a near brawl between the Reddy brothers of Bellary and some Congress members. The Reddys and their associates, who consider Bellary as their fiefdom, challenged the Congress to step into their district. Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah took the gauntlet and eventually led a 15-day padayatra to Bellary in July-August.
The stated aim of the padayatra was to protest against rampant illegal mining. But it was obvious that Siddaramaiah was trying to consolidate his position in the Congress by the yatra.

The BJP too conducted its bash in Bellary. It half-heartedly banned iron ore export and stopped issuing transport permits. Eventually, illegal mining issue remained as an issue to be debated and discussed.

Labour Minister B N Bache Gowda too did not lag behind in embarrassing the government.

He was charged of thrashing a person near Nelamangala for overtaking his official car in which he was travelling. Gowda also reportedly used foul language against the victim. The Chief Minister ended up apologising for his colleague’s boorish behaviour.

A recruitment scam at the Hassan and Mysore government medical colleges that surfaced in September was the next scam that embarrassed the government deeply.

Ramachandra Gowda, then medical education minister, and a confidante of Yeddyurappa, was found to have recruited 315 non-teaching staff, throwing all rules to the winds.

The Chief Minister asked Gowda to quit as the case in the High Court was a virtual slap on the face of the government. Gowda was later appointed as vice-chairman of the State Planning Board.

The mother of all scams, is the land denotification which surfaced in October. For sheer luridness, it stands out as the worst scam of the year. Katta Subramanya Naidu, as IT&BT and Housing minister, and his corporator son Katta Jagadish both have been charged of allegedly hoodwinking the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board by selling farmers’ land using fictitious documents.

The senior Katta is alleged to have taken Rs 87 crore from a company to get a SEZ project approved from the government through devious means. When the Lokayukta police filed an FIR, Katta resigned as per the high command’s direction.

Hardly had Yeddyurappa caught his breath after the Katta scandal, that he was charged with illegally denotifying for gain several acres of land acquired by the government for various projects. He has been accused of bending rules to allot BDA sites out of turn, and at dirt cheap prices to his son and relatives.

It has been like opening a floodgate of scams against Yeddyurappa. Several illegal denotifications have come to light. It is obvious that persons with vested interest are revealing the details of land deals, to media.

But the chief minister’s astounding defence - that he had only done what his predecessors had done - can hardly hide the enormity of the scandals.

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