Charges against ministers 'land' government in soup

Siddaramaiah, 3 Cabinet colleagues in land-related controversies

Charges against ministers 'land' government in soup

 Tall claims made by the Congress party of providing clean government during the 2013 Assembly polls in the State appear to have fallen flat.

Many of the ministers in the Siddaramaiah government have got embroiled in controversies.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and three of his ministers - Energy Minister D K Shivakumar, Cooperation Minister H S Mahadeva Prasad - are involved in land-related controversies. 

The latest to join the list of the tainted is Food and Civil Supplies Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao. 

Rao and his family members have reportedly grabbed about 10.09 acres of government land worth several crores of rupees at Navarathna Agrahara village in Bengaluru North additional taluk near Kempegowda International Airport.

 The local tahsildar recently submitted a report in this regard to the Lokayukta police. Rao’s case has come close on the heels of a Lokayukta police inquiry reportedly finding Mahadeva Prasad guilty of illegally obtaining a Karnataka Housing Board (KHB) site in Chamarajanagar. 

The minister is said to have submitted a false affidavit to the KHB, declaring that he does not own a site. Mysuru-Chamarajanagar Lokayukta Superintendent of Police submitted a report in this regard on September 30 to the local district and sessions court. Prasad reportedly owns a site in Mysuru. 

The Congress was forced to remove Santosh Lad as minister within few months of coming to power over charges of his involvement in illegal mining. Ironically, the Congress had taken out a padayatra to Ballari against illegal mining under the leadership of Siddaramaiah in 2009. Siddaramaiah himself is facing a judicial probe over charges of illegal denotification of prime lands at Bangalore Development Authority’s (BDA) Arkavathi layout. The Justice H S Kempanna Commission of Inquiry has been set up to probe the cases. 

Denotification

The Opposition BJP has charged the chief minister with denotifying 541 acres of land in the layout to mobilise funds for the parliamentary elections early this year.This apart, the ruling party has been facing embarrassment because of the ongoing Lokayukta investigation against Shivakumar for his involvement in a case related to illegal denotification of four acres at Benniganahalli in Bengaluru.

The minister is also facing a number of other serious charges, including illegal mining. 

This was the reason why the party and Siddaramaiah were initially reluctant to induct him into the Cabinet. 

But they relented and made him the minister as he ensured a thumping victory for the party in the byelection to Bengaluru Rural parliamentary constituency, a JD(S) stronghold. 

He was also instrumental in the party’s victory in the byelection to Ballari Rural Assembly constituency a few months ago. Shivakumar has been steadily consolidating his position in the party and emerging as an alternative leader to Siddaramaiah. He is positioning himself as a Vokkaliga leader.

Illegal mining

PWD Minister H C Mahadevappa, a close aide of Siddaramaiah, has of late come under attack from the opposition. 

The BJP leaders had been claiming that the minister’s son was involved in illegal sand mining at T Narasipura in Mysore district. 

However, the BJP leaders appear to be cautious in raising land scams involving ministers. Reason: A number of their leaders are already neck-deep in land-related irregularities. For instance, former chief minister Yeddyurappa is the accused number one in the Benniganahalli denotification case.

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