As DV Sadananda Gowda was taking oath as Karnataka’s new CM on Thursday, a public interest litigation was being filed in the Karnataka HC accusing him of illegally building a commercial complex.
First reported by the tabloid Bangalore Mirror three days ago, the scandal did not immediately gain momentum, possibly because the city barely blinks at the widespread violation of municipal bylaws and the wholesale conversion of residential areas into commercial.
Now, with Gowda promising a clean government after his predecessor and mentor BS Yeddyurappa was deposed on charges of corruption involving land, the latest scandal could not be more ill-timed.
In partnership with DN Jeevaraj, BJP chief whip in the legislative assembly, Gowda is constructing a five-storey commercial complex by merging two residential plots allotted to both men by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) in the suburb of HSR Layout. Gowda has acknowledged the construction but insisted he is jointly constructing a house with Jeevaraj.
The construction is clearly not a house, which cannot be more than three storeys (ground plus two floors). Gowda and Jeevaraj’s building is five storeys high.
It is questionable on two more counts: one, the BDA does not allow two plots to be merged; and two, no commercial construction is allowed on a residential plot.
Yeddyurappa’s first scandal involved similar violations. His son, BY Raghavendra, an MP, got officials to clear the amalgamation of a site belonging to him and Bharathi Shetty, a BJP member of the legislative council, in tony Raj Mahal Vilas Extension. After a building was constructed and news of the amalgamation broke, Raghavendra returned the site to the BDA — but not before much public pressure and ridicule.