Lokayukta Hegde makes BJP govt wait and sweat

Lokayutka N Santosh Hegde is likely to charge Karnataka CM BS Yeddyurappa of doing little to check illegal mining and allowing his sons' business to benefit from it. The report is also likely to raise the clamour for Yeddyurappa's ouster, and the BJP would have to again take a call on his continuation. Lokayukta report 'indicts' BSY

india Updated: Jul 21, 2011 11:08 IST

Lokayutka (ombudsman) is likely to charge Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa of doing precious little to check illegal iron ore mining and allowing his sons' business ventures to benefit from it.

Lokayukta N Santosh Hegde told reporters that his officials have found "illegal mining evidence against influential politicians and people". In view of this, "I am seeking protection for their service and safety," he told reporters.

Hegde, a retired judge of the Supreme Court, has to submit his report on rampant illegal mining in the state within the next ten days as his five-year term expires Aug 2.

The speculation in the political circles on contents of the report was that there seemed to be nothing new except that business ventures of Yeddyurappa's sons had financially benefited from those indulging in illegal mining.

The opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) parties have, however, been charging for weeks now that Yeddyurappa's family has been a beneficiary of illegal mining money.

Hegde himself has been relentless in criticising Yeddyurappa for not acting to check illegal mining.

The names making round as getting mentioned in the report are those already facing serious charges of illegal mining - mining barons and Bharatiya Janata Party ministers, the Reddy brothers, and their associate and health minister B Sriramulu. Of the Reddy brothers, G Janardhana, the most vocal, is tourism minister and his elder sibling G Karunakara holds the revenue portfolio.

One more BJP minister, V Somanna, in charge of civil supplies, is also said to find mention in the report.

The other prominent leader is Yeddyurappa's predecessor HD Kumaraswamy of JD-S on the charge of giving sanction to two companies to mine iron ore flouting rules.

Hegde did not confirm whether the gist of his report making rounds is true or not. He told Kannada TV channels that his effort is to submit his report by July 24 or July 25.

The reported leak of his report seemed to land Hegde in a controversy as Congress leaders expressed fears that "this may become a ruse for the government to dump it".

The Yeddyurappa government had recently rejected a report of a committee it had set up to determined the extent of land encroachment in the state.

The committee had found that around 1.2 million acres across the state, including 40,000 acres in Bangalore, had been encroached.

Since the panel head V Balasubramanian, who retired as additional chief secretary of Karnataka in 2001, had released the report to the media, the government rejected it.

Congress general secretary BK Hariparasad, who has been scathing in his attacks on Hegde in recent times, questioned how such a sensitive report could be "leaked" when the Lokayukta himself had been claiming utmost secrecy was being maintained.

State Congress spokesperson VS Ugrappa said he apprehends that the Yeddyurappa government may use the "leak" to reject the report, like it did with Balasubramanian panel findings.

Hegde himself had been saying that "only four officers were working on the report, not in the Lokayukta office but outside and they are not taking the help of stenographers or typists to ensure secrecy is maintained".

The BJP may now may have to face the heat over the report as Parliament meets for the monsoon session days from now. Observers feel this may blunt the party's attack on the government and it may find itself in the dock over the reported indictment of its first southern government.

At the same time, while the BJP has been formally backing the Anna Hazare movement from the sidelines hoping to be the default beneficiary of any embarrassment that comes the government's way, the fact that the Karnataka lokayukta was part of the joint committee on lokpal as a member of the Hazare team may make it difficult for the BJP to continue its carefully crafted strategy without embarrassing itself in the bargain.

The report is also likely to once again raise the clamour for Yeddyurappa's ouster, and the BJP would have to once again take a call on his continuation. (With inputs from HTC, IANS)

First Published: Jul 21, 2011 09:37 IST