Arguments mar high-level meeting

Arguments mar high-level meeting

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his Cabinet colleagues cut a sorry figure on Wednesday, when senior IAS officer and Additional Chief Secretary to Commerce and Industries department K Ratna Prabha (in pic) indulged in a heated argument with Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda and Chief Minister’s Additional Chief Secretary D N Narasimha Raju (in pic).

Ratna Prabha took exception to Gowda when he complained to the chief minister that the Commerce and Industries department had delayed fixing compensation for lands being acquired for industrial purpose in Kolar district. 

The incident occurred at the High Level Clearance Committee (HLCC) meeting held at Chief Minister’s home office Krishna. 

She immediately intervened and told the chief minister that there was no delay from her department in land acquisition. The price fixation committees are headed by the deputy commissioners and the department cannot do it. 

An upset Gowda asked her not to interrupt him when he was speaking to the chief minister. “If it (price fixation) does not come under you, leave it. Don’t interfere,” the minister hit back at the officer in front of the chief minister, his Cabinet colleagues R V Deshpande, Roshan Baig, M B Patil, S R Patil and senior officials.

Baig alerted Gowda that the mediapersons had entered the meeting hall and asked him not to continue the argument. Gowda immediately dropped the argument. Then Siddaramaiah asked her to calm down and advised her not to speak openly against ministers.

Earlier in the meeting, Ratna Prabha is understood to have taken serious exception to Narasimha Raju for obtaining information related to the Industries department directly from a subordinate officer. Raju collected information from Mahesh, Joint Director of Karnataka Udyog Mitra, on the latest investment proposals and handed it over to the chief minister.

Irked by Raju’s move, Ratna Prabha asked him to follow the protocol of obtaining information from the department head.

“I am responsible for all the issues as head of the department. What if the junior officer gives wrong information to the chief minister? This is not the proper way,” she said.

Efforts to pacify her by Chief Secretary Kaushik Mukherjee and other officials went in vain. She later left the meeting hall in a huff. 

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