BENGALURU: The ghost of land denotification scam seems to have returned to haunt former chief ministers BS Yeddyurappa and HD Kumaraswamy. Even as Yeddyurappa was making the moves to get the reins of state BJP, an FIR filed by the Lokayukta police on May 7 against the two chief ministers over illegal land deals in Bengaluru has sounded fresh trouble for them.
The Lokayukta has acted on the basis of a complaint filed by RTI activist Jayakumar Hiremath. Yeddyurappa has been charged with denotifying a prime piece of land in Bengaluru to benefit a relative of Kumaraswamy. The JD(S) state president is left struggling to explain as his mother-in-law Vimala, owner of the said land in RT Nagar, is the alleged beneficiary of the denotification.
The case, which has surfaced just when Yeddyurappa was trying to regain his lost political ground and Kumaraswamy was set to rejuvenate JD(S), has triggered fresh political power play between three strong leaders of the state, with state Energy Minister D K Shivakumar being the man who is seen as the villain of the episode that is unfolding.
Yeddyurappa, who was denied a berth in the Narendra Modi government, is said to be keen to head the Karnataka unit of BJP as the incumbent president Prahlad Joshi’s term is set to end in October. The fresh case could put a spoke in the wheel for Yeddyurappa as the trial begins in the Lokayukta court. The case has also set off yet another show-down between two Vokkaliga strongmen of state politics, Kumaraswamy and Shivakumar. Kumaraswamy believes Shivakumar is behind the case filed by Hiremath.
In an open challenge to Shivakumar, Kumaraswamy told The Sunday Standard, “A conspiracy has been hatched to implicate me in new cases and send me to jail. I have seen many a political battle like this and know who are the elements behind this.”
Hitting back at Shivakumar, Kumaraswamy has threatened to expose his alleged land grab in Shantinagar Housing Co-operative Society’s allotment of sites in Bengaluru. Shivakumar is facing allegations of ensuring that bulk of the sites distributed by Shantinagar Housing Co-operative Society went to his own cronies. He sees Kumaraswamy’s threat as a sign of frustration as the new case would further weaken the JD(S) politically.
The battle between the two is being seen as a no-holds-barred tussle for the political turf of old Mysore Province, which comprises Mysuru, Mandya, Ramanagar, Kolar and Bengalur Rural districts, which is considered the Vokkaliga belt of state’s political landscape.
Kumaraswamy and Shivakumar represent neighbouring constituencies of Ramanagar and Kanakapura in Ramanagar district, just 25 km from Bengaluru city. Shivakumar’s consolidation in the region, with his younger brother D K Suresh being the local MP, has been a cause for worry for Kumaraswamy.
Santosh Hegde’s report on illegal mining that triggered a political tsunami in Karnataka resulted in Yeddyurappa stepping down from the CM’s post on July 31, 2011. He was even sent to jail later.
In fact the animosity exploded just a few days before the report was to be submitted when Yeddyurappa along with some of his cabinet colleagues met Hegde at the latter’s residence, which drew strong negative comments from the media. An angry Hegde lashed out at Yeddyurappa for this. Yeddyurappa even made a bid to use BJP patriarch L K Advani’s close rapport with Hegde apparently to avoid the worst, but in vain.
While Hegde is now seen associated with the ongoing agitation in Bengaluru by freedom fighter HS Doreswamy for clearing encroachment of lake bed lands in the city, Yeddyurappa even now fumes at Hegde as a person who “targeted” him and sent him to jail.