NEW DELHI: The BJP today accused Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Power Minister D K Shivakumar of being involved in a "mega scam" of about Rs 447 crore relating to the state-owned Karnataka Power Corporation Limited (KPCL), a charge the Congress refuted as "baseless".
State BJP president B S Yeddyurappa told reporters in Bengaluru that KPCL paid a penalty of Rs 447 crore to the Centre for re-allotment of a coal block despite it having no such liability, following the coal scam verdict of the Supreme Court in August, 2014.
"We charge both of them with receiving kickbacks for making this payment," he said and demanded a CBI probe.
Rejecting the charge, the state power minister said in New Delhi, "Yeddyurappa is misleading the public...This will boomerang (on the party). We are ready for any kind of probe and even a public debate on the issue." "The decision to pay the penalty to the central government was taken in the interest of the state and not for personal gain," he told reporters in the national capital.
The amount was paid to ensure reallocation of the Baranj coal block in Maharashtra for the smooth supply of coal to power units in the state, he added.
Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee working president Dinesh Gundu Rao too rubbished the BJP's charge, saying the party should stop making such allegations to "score political points" in the run-up to the Assembly polls slated for next year.
The opposition BJP, citing documents, alleged that Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar as chairman and director of KPCL respectively had "failed miserably in their duties to protect KPCL and allowed loot of taxpayers' money of Rs 447 crore".
Yeddyurappa, a former chief minister, demanded that the matter be handed over to the CBI for investigating the role of the chief minister and all those involved in the alleged scam.
The BJP said KPCL and Kolkata-based Eastern Mineral and Trading Agency (EMTA) formed Karnataka EMTA Coal Mines Ltd (KECML) with 24 per cent and 76 per cent stake respectively in 2002, and when the central government allotted six coal mines to KPCL in 2003, it in turn executed the lease in favour of KECML.
In the wake of the coal scam, the Supreme Court cancelled all coal mining licences, including those of KECML, and levied penalties, the senior BJP leader said.
Maintaining that KPCL did not object to or counter the claims made by KECML, Yeddyurappa said, "KPCL woke up just 48 hours before the deadline of December 31, 2014. It wrote to KECML on December 30 saying it (KECML) was liable to pay the entire amount and directed it to make the total payment." "Shockingly, within 24 hours of writing the letter, on December 31, KPCL paid Rs 110 crore towards penalty and claimed it was 24 per cent of the amount, despite no demand having been made on KPCL to make the payment," he said.
"Most shockingly on March 16, 2017, KPCL made the balance payment of Rs 337 crore, despite a contempt plea that is pending in the Supreme Court, and related matters before the high court," he added.
On February 2, 2015, the central government had filed a contempt petition in the Supreme Court against KECML over non- payment of the penalty.
Defending the payment made by KPCL, Dinesh Gundu Rao of the Congress told reporters in Bengaluru that KPCL paid the money to the coal controller under protest and also filed affidavits in the Supreme Court and the High Court that the payment was being made without prejudice to KPCL's rights to recover the money from EMTA.
"Since the matter is sub-judice, BJP should stop making any allegations," Rao said.
The fresh salvo by the BJP against the chief minister, comes days after it accused Siddaramaiah of "illegally denotifying" land resulting in a loss of Rs 300 crore to the public exchequer, and filed a complaint with the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB).
Rejecting allegations of denotification, Siddaramaiah called it an attempt to tarnish his image ahead of the assembly elections early next year.
Karnataka Power Minister Shivakumar is under the lens of the income-tax department, and around 80 premises linked to him have been raided over the last one month. "I will respond at an appropriate time. Let the investigation be completed," he said when asked about the raids.