High Command Spoils CM's New Year
By Express News Service | Published: 01st January 2014 08:11 AM |
Under pressure from Delhi, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has finally decided to expand his eight-month-old ministry by inducting two senior legislators, D K Shivakumar and R Roshan Baig, earlier denied berths on the grounds that they were tainted.
Former minister Shivakumar is accused of mining irregularities, while Baig is facing a land-grab case before a Lokayukta court. They will be sworn in at the Raj Bhavan at 5.15 pm on Wednesday. While Baig is likely to get the Infrastructure and Information portfolio, Shivakumar may head the Energy Ministry.
Sources in Siddaramaiah’s office said the party high command had asked him to induct them without delay. Soon after he took the decision, he went into a huddle with senior ministers R V Deshpande, T B Jayachandra and H K Patil, and explained to them that he had no choice but induct them.
A senior minister said Siddaramaiah had been under pressure for two months to induct the powerful legislators.
“The CM had managed to defer the expansion on two occasions, once by dropping Santosh Lad, accused of illegal mining,” said another minister. “But he had to finally give in.”
This comes just a day after KPPC chief G Parameshwara had said that the return of B S Yeddyurappa to the BJP would help the Congress. The inductions are likely to give the BJP a handle to target Congress on the corruption issue.
This is also likely to neutralise the advantage the Congress enjoyed against the BJP. Congress has run a relatively scandal-free government for eight months, while several ministers from the previous BJP government were in jail on corruption charges. The ruling party is now vulnerable to attack from the BJP.
However, Siddaramaiah had managed to keep him out. Shivakumar and Baig, both six-time MLAs, had to sit out after freedom fighter H S Doreswamy wrote a letter asking Siddaramaiah not to have tainted leaders into his ministry.
Anti-corruption activist S R Hiremath had also actively campaigned against the two leaders.
When contacted, Doreswamy sympathised with the CM and said: “What can the Chief Minister do if the party’s top leaders impose these tainted politicians on him?”
He slammed the double standards of the central Congress leaders, who he said spoke against corruption but did not act against those guilty of it.
Hiremath said the Congress, which had come to power with a promise to fight corruption, stood exposed. “We will continue our campaign against this,” he said.
Meanwhile, the sudden decision to induct Shivakumar and Baig has led to heartburn, with several ministerial aspirants openly airing their dissent.
Senior legislator Basavaraj Rayareddy and former minister K B Koliwad said they had better credentials to enter the Cabinet.
Shivanand Patil, another aspirant, said the party should have inducted a Lingayat to gain the community’s confidence.
DKS to Ignore Ritual Mourning
Shivakumar, known for his belief in rituals, is not letting anything come between himself and his position this time.
He has decided to take oath on an amavasya (no-moon day), considered inauspicious.
He is also ignoring the 12-day ritual mourning period following his father’s death on Tuesday.
Why are they in the dock?
According to Hiremath, Shivakumar, along with his brother and others, paid a paltry sum and lifted high-grade ore from mines owned by the state-run Mysore Minerals Ltd. Shivakumar was a minister in the S M Krishna Cabinet at that time.
Roshan Baig was allegedly involved in the multi-crore stamp paper scandal. His brother Rehan Baig allegedly struck a business deal with prime accused Kareem Lala Telgi. Rehan Baig was arrested later. Roshan Baig allegedly forcibly bought a flat from a woman in Bharatinagar.
A private complaint accusing Roshan Baig of land grab and fraud is also before the Special Lokayukta Court.
The complainant, 78-year-old Abdul Haq Surathi, alleged Baig was illegally allotted 1.103 acres in Begur hobli, on the outskirts of Bangalore, by Karnataka State Electronics Development Corporation Limited (KEONICS) on February 19, 2006 for just Rs 19.47 lakh.