The Bangalore-Mysore expressway project stays in the hands of the Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE) consortium. On Monday, the Karnataka government dumped a proposed legislation to take over the Rs 2,850-crore venture after differences persisted over it among the ruling coalition partners — the JD(S) and the BJP.
While the JD(S) headed by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy wanted a complete takeover of the project and was eager to bring in the legislation, the BJP was against it. Instead, the BJP wanted only a takeover of the 2,451-acre "excess land" allotted to NICE so that it can be returned to the original owners — the farmers along the expressway.
The bill for the takeover of the project was supposed to be introduced in the legislature on Monday, the first day of the extended budget session. But the JD(S) leaders were forced to dump their plan and pursue a "logical path" of taking on NICE in the courts.
The climb-down occurred after the coalition partners held separate meetings — JD(S) members met late on Sunday while the BJP legislators met on Monday. JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda addressed a legislature party meeting for the first time since his son, Kumaraswamy, pulled out of the Congress-led coalition in January 2006 to forge an alliance with the BJP. He charged that the state BJP leaders were against publication of facts related to the project because they were influenced by "other considerations".
The coalition's decision to back off from the takeover bid also gave the opposition Congress an opportunity to stall proceedings in the legislative assembly and the legislative council.
The party mounted pressure on the CM for names of those who had tried to bribe him on behalf of NICE. On June 12, the CM had accused NICE of trying to bribe him through two emissaries — a minister in the former Congress-JD(S) coalition headed by Dharam Singh and an editor.
"This is a serious issue... We want you (Kumaraswamy) to disclose their names or quit," Dharam Singh said while moving an adjournment motion in the legislative assembly.