Congress mounts attack on govt over corruption charges

Published on Mar 24, 2022 12:47 AM IST

“Bring (these issues) in another manner and we can discuss it,” Bommai said, while replying to the Opposition leader.

Opposition leader Siddaramaiah (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
Opposition leader Siddaramaiah (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
By, Bengaluru

The principal opposition in Karnataka —Congress— on Wednesday lashed out at the Basavaraj Bommai-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government for stonewalling discussions on the growing allegations of corruption in the southern state.

“The contractors’ association had written to the President that some ministers from the government and officials from a few departments were charging 40% commission according to media reports in November last year. During the Belagavi session, I had asked to bring this issue up but it never came up,” said Opposition leader Siddaramaiah in Bengaluru.

“During the joint session, we protested against the governor’s speech. It was not possible to discuss this. Now under Rule 60, I have asked that this issue be taken up for discussion and it has all the qualifications to be taken up under this rule,” he said.He was speaking during the ongoing session of the Karnataka budget session. Meanwhile, Speaker Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri rejected the adjournment motion, citing that it does not qualify to be taken up under the said rules.

The developments come at a time when the Bommai-led administration continues to face allegations of corruption, inefficiency and infighting that has led to a sort of policy paralysis in the southern state where development activities have come to a near standstill.

“Bring (these issues) in another manner and we can discuss it,” Bommai said, while replying to the Opposition leader.

Several leaders from the ruling party also stood up to object to the proposed motion for adjournment on a matter of public importance. However, the speaker’s consent is necessary to make the motion, according to the rule book.

“As an Opposition party it is our responsibility and our duty,” Siddaramaiah responded.

The Congress was referring to the Karnataka State Contractors’ Association, who in a letter (dated July last year) released to the media in November, had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging that they are made to cough up around 25-30% of the tender amount to elected representatives and others before starting the works.

The letter, the association stated, was to highlight the “miserable plight” of working contractors in the state as well as remedial measures to be taken.

“The contractors face (an) unhealthy atmosphere and are discouraged to take up the works of roads and buildings. They are facing untoward and ugly situation in getting the tender works in various departments like public works department, minor and major irrigation, panchayat raj engineering, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike and health department etc,”

In the letter, they alleged that the concerned ministers “harass and insist” on payment of 5% on the amount put to tender before approval while few elected representatives demand 3% before starting of works. In district and taluks, the association said, there are demands to the extent of 5% on buildings and 10% on road works.

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