EC not allowing me to work, scoffs RDPR minister

Karnataka’s Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) minister Krishna Byre Gowda.

Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) Minister Krishna Byre Gowda has accused the Election Commission of not allowing him to discharge his duty even as the state is reeling under drought and faces a drinking water problem.

Gowda said he was not allowed to chair a meeting on Saturday with chief executive officers of zilla panchayats to review the drought situation. Instead, the Election Commission permitted RDPR principal secretary L K Atheeq to chair the meeting.  

“Several taluks are reeling under severe drought. The EC, though, will not allow me to discharge my duty as the RDPR minister and conduct meetings with the ZP CEOs to review critical drinking water and employment programmes. Why?” Gowda asked in a tweet.  

Karnataka went to polls on April 18 and April 23 in two phases of the Lok Sabha election. “Elections are over in Karnataka. Aren’t laws and rules meant to aid better governance and not stymie legitimate efforts to safeguard citizens?” he wrote.

Speaking to DH, Gowda said Saturday’s meeting was scheduled two weeks ago. This is part of his monthly reviews.

“Just before the Lok Sabha elections, we sanctioned a large amount of funds - Rs 50 lakh for Rabi/Kharif drought taluks, Rs 25 lakh for Rabi drought taluks and Rs 10 lakh for non-drought taluks. This is in addition to Rs 50 lakh for drought-hit and Rs 25 lakh for non-drought taluks we gave earlier. Now, I need to check and take stock of how this money has been spent. How
will this (meeting) affect the outcome of elections?” he asked.

Consecutive drought years and rapid depletion of groundwater levels have resulted in a severe shortage of drinking water in many parts of the state. Data shows that a total of 1,112 villages are being supplied tanker water as nearby water sources have dried up.

Gowda resumed office on April 20, after hectic campaigning for the Lok Sabha election which he contested as the Congress candidate from the Bangalore North constituency against BJP’s Union Minister D V Sadananda Gowda.

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