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Siddaramaiah declares his Hublot watch a State asset

Siddaramaiah declares his Hublot watch a State asset

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday declared his diamond-studded Hublot wristwatch, gifted to him by a friend of over 30 years, a government asset.

He also said he would pay the necessary gift tax and declare the watch before the Income Tax department by March 15 and before the Lokayukta in June.

“I will, however, never wear the watch again. It will be placed in the Vidh
ana Soudha. This is all that’s there to the watch story,” he told reporters after announcing that the watch was gifted to him by his Dubai-based surgeon friend, Dr Girish Chandra Varma.

Claiming that he was not “rich” and had never indulged in luxury, Siddaramaiah said he had not owned an expensive watch before this gift. “Till 1994, I used to wear pants and shirt, but after that I have been wearing only dhothi and kurta. I didn’t even know how expensive the watch was, nor was I using it when the allegations were made. But it is definitely not Rs 70 lakh as claimed by (JD-S leader) H D Kumaraswamy,” Siddaramaiah said. Siddaramaiah said he had remained silent all these days and had not disclosed Dr Varma’s name owing to the latter’s busy schedule. “He is a famous cardio-surgeon and had many appointments lined up. Hence he couldn’t come to India immediately and furnish the affidavit,” he said.

Siddaramaiah’s disclosure comes at a time when he has been facing the heat from various quarters seeking his clarification on the expensive watch. While State BJP chief Pralhad Joshi had filed a complaint with the Enforcement Directorate, City-based activist S Bhaskaran has complained to the Lokayukta. With the budget session starting next week, Siddaramaiah ensured that he made his stand clear.
DH News Service

 

Disclosure has raised more doubts: HDK

JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy, who first raised the Hublot watch controversy, on Thursday said Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s disclosure that the watch was gifted to him by a close friend in Dubai, raised more doubts than answers.

“The chief minister, all these days, denied the watch was expensive. He even claimed he had forgotten the name of the friend who had gifted him the watch. Now, he suddenly makes the disclosure that it was gifted to him by a friend whom he knew since 1983. How can he forget the name of his close friend?” Kumaraswamy asked.

He also sought to know why Siddaramaiah offered to give away the watch for Rs 10 lakh.
Kumaraswamy had claimed that the watch cost Rs 70 lakh.

“It is clear that the chief minister finds himself in a tight spot and is trying to find an escape route,” he said.

He said he had convened a press conference in Bengaluru on Friday. Sources said he would clear the air on counter-accusations made by a section of Congress legislators that he owned several expensive watches, including Franck Muller and Rado, while his son Nikil drove high-end cars such as Lamborghini, Range Rover and Infinity Ex35.

Who is Dr Varma?
Dr Girish Chandra Varma (in pic) is the chief cardiac surgeon at NMC Specialty Hospital, Dubai, Al Nahda. He completed his MS in general surgery from Kasturba Medical College, Mangaluru, and MCh in Cardiovascular Thoracic Surgery from Bombay University.

He attained clinical fellowship in cardiovascular surgery from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, USA, in 1996 and postgraduate diploma in cardiovascular surgery from the University Pierre and Marie Curie, Paris, in 1999. When Deccan Herald tried to contact Dr Varma at his Dubai hospital, the staff there stated that he was on leave till Saturday.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said that he had known Varma since 1983. Varma, had done his MBBS in Davangere and MS in Mangaluru, he added. “After practicing in Paris and the US, he has settled down in Dubai since 2005. During his visit in July last year to Bengaluru, he presented me the watch he was wearing and insisted that I use it. This, despite me resisting it. Because he is an old friend, I relented. I however wore the watch only for four months, from July end to November,” he said.

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