Bring back probity

Bring back probity

A dubious history has been created with B S Yeddyurappa becoming the first former chief minister of Karnataka to be sent to judicial custody on corruption charges. When the whole country is awash with several high-profile corruption cases, including those against ministers who served in the Central government, being heard by the Supreme Court, the charges against Yeddyurappa may not come as a surprise, but it is indeed a sad development that political leaders who are supposed to function as public trustees have been found to have let down their electors.

Yeddyurappa’s three-year tenure as chief minister was marked by several scandals mostly involving his family members and friends. If the Lokyaukta’s damning report on illegal mining in the state forced his exit two-and-a-half months ago, specific charges of denotification of land and quid pro quo financial benefit for the companies run by his sons and son-in-law have now landed Yeddyurappa in the soup. Though the trial currently on in the Special Lokayukta Court will have to establish Yeddyurappa’s culpability or otherwise, there is no doubt the BJP’s first chief minister in Karnataka is permanently tainted.

When Yeddyurappa realised his life-time ambition of becoming chief minister on May 30, 2008, he ought to have remembered what Sir M Visvesvaraya did when he took over as the Dewan of Mysore in early 20th century. Vivesvaraya reportedly summoned his relatives and family members and told them not to seek any favours from him.

Unfortunately, Yeddyurappa’s political career has been undone largely by his family members. With two other ministerial colleagues of Yeddyurappa, Katta Subramanya Naidu and G Janardhana Reddy also being in jail on various charges, it should serve as a lesson to the political class that they can no longer take the law of the land and the people who elected them for granted.

The explosion of corruption cases serves as a reminder that the people’s massive support for Anna Hazare’s movement for a strong Lokpal at the Centre and Lokyauktas with suo motu powers at the state level is a culmination of public anger. The UPA government headed by Manmohan Singh should stop pussy-footing on the demand for these institutions and ensure that they become a reality at least during the coming winter session of Parliament. It’s time to begin a new era of transparency and probity in governance in this country.

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