The mystery of very rich businessmen getting elected to the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka—think Vijay Mallya, think M.A.M. Ramaswamy, think Rajeev Chandrashekhar—has been plainly obvious to anybody who can add two and two. But for the politically naive and incredulous, it is getting slowly unravelled.
P.M. Raghunandan has a fine story in today’s Deccan Herald on the last named, the erstwhile scion of the BPL empire, who rode to the House of Elders trouncing U.R. Anantha Murthy. A story that shows that when politics becomes a family business, it becomes very easy to transfer the state’s silver to a business family.
Turns out that Chandrashekhar’s nascent firm, Jupiter Aviation and Logistics Limited, won a 30-year lease to develop the 900-acre Hassan aerodrome project for a piddling price of Rs 1,100 per acre per year.
The going price for a similar project in Shimoga: Rs 20,232 per acre.
The going price for a similar project in Gulbarga: Rs 15,111 per acre.
Id est, the land was acquired by the humble farmers of Hassan from the humble farmers of Hassan, and leased out to the business baron from Bangalore for a song because ______ (fill in the blank).
Let the record state that the nodal agency to develop the airport is the Public Works Department, whose head at the time of the transaction was H.D. Revanna.
Obviously it is not for the humble farmer of Hassan to ask what Rajeev Chandrashekhar’s expertise, experience or record in building airports is. But surely, at 10-15 times lower than what his brother-farmer elsewhere was paid, he can understand that the promoters and sponsors have taken them for a ride before the first plane can fly.
Or can he?