Oppn meet: Ruckus in Karnataka Assembly over IAS officers receiving leaders

The BJP lawmakers came prepared with a list of 30 IAS officers, each one assigned to “welcome” an Opposition leader.
Last Updated : 19 July 2023, 21:53 IST
Last Updated : 19 July 2023, 21:53 IST

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The deployment of IAS officers to receive leaders who arrived for the meeting of Opposition parties in the city earlier this week, caused a ruckus in the Karnataka Assembly with the BJP attacking the Congress government for "misusing" bureaucrats for a political event.

The BJP lawmakers came prepared with a list of 30 IAS officers, each one assigned to “welcome” an Opposition leader. They demanded an apology from the government for "tarnishing" the state's image.

“IAS officers were used as gumastas (agents) to welcome ineligible people under protocol,” former chief minister Basavaraj Bommai said, citing the example of one principal secretary-rank officer who was roped in for the Opposition meeting.

Bommai even read out names of Opposition leaders he said were not eligible for protocol treatment.

“Who is Sanjay Yadav? He's neither MLA nor MP. Who is K M Khader Mohideen? Renuka Devi? One P J Joseph is shown as Karnataka MLA. Francis George? Devarajan? Presidents of small, unknown parties were given protocol. Who is Jawahirullah (Manithaneya Makkal Katchi)? Krishna Patel from Apna Dal? Give protocol to those eligible, we have no problem. But, where does it say in the rules that IAS officers must be deputed?” Bommai asked.

Former law minister S Suresh Kumar blamed Chief Secretary Vandita Sharma. “She should’ve shown guts to say she wouldn’t allow her officers to be used for this. Officers were sent to the airport to receive people out on bail,” he charged.

Lending his support to the BJP, former JD(S) chief minister H D Kumaraswamy slammed the Congress government for deputing IAS officers for a political event.

Law Minister H K Patil insisted that there was no violation of protocol. “As per protocol, when chief ministers visit the state, we've to do it. You've done it, too. We've not done it for party leaders,” he said. “Allegations are being made because 26 parties came together and took a firm decision,” he said, angering the BJP MLAs, who protested in the well.

“It's the government’s prerogative,” Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said. “It's the responsibility of the government to treat guests with respect," he said, pointing out that in May 2018, IAS officers were named as "liaison officers" for the inauguration of H D Kumaraswamy-led coalition government. He also said that late Ananth Kumar had designated BJP executive committee members as state guests.

"We've continued the tradition of respecting guests," he said, accusing the Opposition of "shamelessness".

Speaker U T Khader asked the BJP members not to disrupt proceedings for a "small" issue.

Published 19 July 2023, 17:13 IST

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