‘Law takes its course but…’: Yediyurappa springs a surprise over Shivakumar arrest
“DK Shivakumar’s arrest hasn’t brought us any happiness. I pray to God that he comes out of this… The law takes its own course, but I will be the happiest person if he comes out of this,” Yediyurappa said late on Tuesday evening.Updated: Sep 04, 2019 12:34 IST
The arrest of DK Shivakumar, the Congress’ lead troubleshooter in Karnataka, has provoked a sharp attack from his party that has decried the investigation against the former minister as political vendetta. But as the Enforcement Directorate announced his arrest in Delhi, there was a surprise reaction from Shivakumar’s rival back home in Bengaluru, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa.
Yediyurappa told reporters that he wasn’t happy about news of Shivakumar’s arrest and had never wished him harm.
“DK Shivakumar’s arrest hasn’t brought us any happiness. I pray to God that he comes out of this… The law takes its own course, but I will be the happiest person if he comes out of this,” Yediyurappa said late on Tuesday evening.
The chief minister’s statement is in line with his first promise when he edged out Janata Dal Secular-Congress coalition’s HD Kumaraswamy from the chief minister’s chair in July.
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“I give an assurance in the House that we won’t indulge in vindictive politics either. I believe in forget and forgive,” Yediyurappa told the state assembly in July minutes after winning the trust vote.
But as he settled down in his new office, several Congress leaders including Shivakumar accused him of not delivering on this promise.
Congress leaders in Karnataka see the chief minister’s reaction to Shivakumar’s arrest as an attempt to position himself far from the controversy over the Enforcement Directorate action against one of its most influential lawmakers in the state.
Shivakumar did, after all, first come under the scanner of central agencies in August 2017 around the time that he was hosting legislators from Gujarat sequestered in a resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru. The Congress had moved them out of Gujarat over fears that the BJP might poach some of them ahead of the hotly-contested election to a Rajya Sabha seat. Congress’ Ahmed Patel finally did manage to scrape through.
Shivakumar, who first entered the state assembly 30 years ago and went on to win every subsequent election that he contested, is among the state’s richest lawmakers. His assets, according to the Association for Democratic Reforms, have gone up from Rs 251 crore in 2013 to Rs 840 crore in 2018.
Officials at the Enforcement Directorate, which registered the first case against Shivakumar last year, accuses the Congress leader of laundering money and carrying out dubious transactions abroad through shell companies. “We have found strong evidence that DK Shivakumar was instrumental in money laundering through hawala and shell companies. He was evasive during the questioning after which it was decided to arrest him,” a senior official of the anti-money laundering agency, who did not wish to be named, said.