Double standards

The induction of D K Shivakumar and Roshan Baig into the Karnataka council of ministers has exposed the double standards of the Congress party. The two senior leaders have been facing charges which are being probed by the Karnataka Lokayukta. The Congress, which had been underlining that it was committed to a ‘corruption free government,’ has cared two hoots for the pledge that it has often made.

A party which went to town claiming credit for passing the anti-corruption watchdog Lokpal bill in Parliament recently and has pressured the Maharashtra government to reverse its decision on rejecting the judicial commission report holding four formers chief ministers, belonging to Congress, responsible for the Adarsh housing society scam in Mumbai, has shown no such qualms in giving the go-ahead for inducting the two controversial MLAs.

Shivakumar has been facing several cases before the Lokayukta, including those relating to illegal denotification of land. He has allegedly caused losses to the state exchequer as companies, owned directly or indirectly by him, bought iron ore at throw-away prices and sold them at exorbitant prices. As for Baig, he is facing a case of fraud and misuse of the government-allotted land. It was only in November, 2013, under intense pressure from civil society and the opposition parties that chief minister Siddaramaiah dropped Santosh Lad, facing cases of illegal mining, from his cabinet. Siddaramaiah, who had initially kept out both Shivakumar and Baig from the ministry, is said to have been directed by the Congress high command to do so. The episode has obviously embarrassed the chief minister, besides denting his authority.

The Congress leadership may have taken into account the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections while bringing the tainted duo to the Karnataka government. The party may be planning to consolidate its support among the Vokkaligas and Muslims by swearing in Shivakumar, a powerful leader of the Vokkaligas and Baig, who enjoys support among the Muslims, but the decision has left a large section of party MLAs clearly unhappy. Several of them went on record questioning the move and demanded to know why they were left out, though there were no charges against them. The party also cannot take a moral high ground against the BJP which is all set to welcome scam-tainted former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa. Congress will certainly have a tough time in defending its decision.

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