The Congress decision to back Karnataka minister K J George in the face of demands for his resignation after the CBI filed an FIR naming him as an accused in the suicide of senior police officer M K Ganapathy could prove costly for the party, what with Assembly elections around the corner. The logical, and politically beneficial, way forward would have been to let the powerful minister go and then dare the BJP to do the same with its leaders facing cases.
The embarrassing situation the Congress finds itself in now could have been avoided had Siddaramaiah not shown undue haste in reinducting George into the Cabinet after he had to resign the first time following the police officer’s death. Ganapathy, moments before he hanged himself in a hotel in Madikeri in July last year, named George and two superior officers as his tormentors in an interview given to a local TV channel. While the Congress government ordered a CID inquiry following an outcry, a Madikeri court asked police to file an FIR against the minister. George, who was home minister then, resigned.
But what followed was a farce. Within two months, the CID filed a report exonerating George, and days later, he returned to the Cabinet with a plump portfolio. If the Congress government wanted to put an end to the speculation over George’s alleged role in the officer’s death, the unusually quick investigation and the haste with which he was made minister again didn’t help at all. Ganapathy’s family soon moved the Supreme Court, which ordered an investigation by the CBI.
The filing of the FIR by the CBI is a natural consequence. So Siddaramaiah’s attempt to save George’s job by pointing fingers at BJP leaders facing cases is unlikely to win any hearts. The argument that the BJP-led Centre is misusing the CBI to defame the Congress falls flat in the face of the fact that the central agency is investigating the Ganapathy case on the direction of the apex court. The CM must realise that he has to let the minister go if he wants to deprive the BJP of a potential weapon.