BENGALURU: A leather bag with Karnataka government emblem and ‘D K Shivakumar, Water resources and medical education minister’ printed underneath has been sent to all MPs of Karnataka to invite them for a meeting on Cauvery and other issues in New Delhi. But this gift turned into an ammo for the BJP to attack the Congress-JD(S) coalition state government on Tuesday. The contents of the bag , an iPhone X— sent to MPs as a supposed ‘goodwill gesture’ turned into an embarrassment for Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy after BJP MPs decided to return the gifts with a piece of advice to the government.
While the meeting was welcomed by all, BJP MPs like P C Mohan and Shobha Karandlaje said the government preaches austerity but indulges in extravagance. Taking the moral high ground, many BJP MPs have asked Kumaraswamy to use public money to pay salaries to civic workers and solve the farmer crisis.
After BJP MPs returned the gifts with a note to the CM’s office, Kumaraswamy who is in New Delhi told the media, “My office received no proposal to give iPhones. I have not directed anyone to give out gifts and don’t know if it has been given unofficially.” He added that he wasn’t aware of who sent the gifts.
Within hours of Kumaraswamy’s reaction, Shivakumar confirmed that the gifts had indeed been sent. “I sent the phones out of goodwill, so that we are able to communicate with MPs speedily. Those who want to find fault will always find fault. Bag was given by us but the phone was my personal addition,” Shivakumar told the media.
“There is no need for such expensive gifts. They are in the government to help people and let them do that first,”Shobha told TNIE.The BJP took to social media to post pictures of the bag and phone that have been offered as “gifts”.
“Sri. @hd_kumaraswamy’s govt has enough money to gift expensive gadgets to MP’s but, He can’t waive off loans of farmers. He can’t provide free bus passes to students. He can’t allocate funds for development of coastal & north Karnataka. This govt is a shame on democracy (SIC),” BJP Karnataka tweeted.
Shivakumar added that phones were given last year as well and many MPs, including those from BJP, thanked him personally. While some within the BJP thought that the controversy was unnecessary since ‘gifts’ were commonplace while inviting elected representatives for meetings, the issue has left Kumaraswamy red-faced.