Karnataka: Row over compensation to kin of Kerala farmer killed by elephant | Bengaluru - Hindustan Times
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Karnataka: Row over compensation to kin of Kerala farmer killed by elephant

By, Bengaluru
Feb 21, 2024 08:14 AM IST

BJP has raised concerns about the rationale behind the compensation, alleging that it was orchestrated at the behest of senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi

A political row erupted following the state government’s decision to grant a compensation of 15 lakh to the family of a Kerala farmer killed by the translocated elephant from Hassan district, with the state unit of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accusing the Congress-led government of using state’s funds to please the party’s high command.

Cogress MP Rahul Gandhi meets the family of Ajeesh, a forest watchman who was killed in an elephant attack in Wayanad of Kerala on Sunday. (PTI)
Cogress MP Rahul Gandhi meets the family of Ajeesh, a forest watchman who was killed in an elephant attack in Wayanad of Kerala on Sunday. (PTI)

BJP has raised concerns about the rationale behind the compensation, alleging that it was orchestrated at the behest of senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. The BJP cited a letter purportedly showing that the decision was influenced by Gandhi’s intervention.

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According to an official release from the forest department on Monday, the compensation for Ajeesh, who lost his life in the elephant attack in Wayanad, was granted in response to requests from elected representatives and the government of Kerala.

State BJP chief BY Vijyendra in a post on X (formerly Twitter) shared a letter from the forest minister addressed to Rahul Gandhi, who represents Kerala as a Member of Parliament (MP). The letter indicates that the compensation was released based on the advice of Gandhi, with the consent of chief minister Siddaramaiah.

“The Karnataka government’s outrageous misuse of Karnataka taxpayers’ funds to curry favour with Rahul Gandhi is utterly disgraceful,” he said. Amidst ‘crippling drought’, the Congress government ‘shamelessly prioritises pleasing Rahul Gandhi’ over addressing the state’s urgent needs.

The allocation of state funds worth 15 lakh to a victim in Rahul Gandhi’s Wayanad constituency by “falsely blaming a elephant from Karnataka is an appalling betrayal,” Vijayendra said, adding that the Congress government was “pleasing the senior leader” and prioritising his constituency even as farmers across Karnataka were hit by drought.

“Chief minister Siddaramaiah and his cohorts must be held accountable for unethically looting Karnataka taxpayers’ money & state treasury to cater to Congress high command’s greed,” he said in a post on X.

Leader of the Opposition (LoP) R Ashok also questioned the government’s decision, implying that it was an inappropriate use of state funds. “Is Karnataka the personal property of the Congress to release funds from Kannadigas’ tax to Kerala victims as per the advice of Kerala MPs Rahul Gandhi and KC Venugopal?” said R Ashok. “CM Siddaramaiah, don’t your ministers have the capacity to question the high command courageously that it is the tax money of the people of Karnataka?” he added.

In a letter to Rahul Gandhi, state forest minister Eshwar Khandre explained that the decision to compensate Ajeesh’s family was made on the advice of the Congress leader, conveyed through KC Venugopal, and after discussions with chief minister Siddaramaiah.

“I would like to submit that as per your advice to KC Venugopalji which was conveyed through a telephonic message to me yesterday and after discussing with Honble Shri Siddaramaiah, Chief Minister of Karnataka, accordingly Govt of Karnataka has announced compensation of 15 lakh to the family of the deceased,” the minister’s letter said.

A Congress reaction here

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