The cons, cheats & frauds lording over Karnataka

RAVI KRISHNA REDDY writes from Bangalore: It is truly a sad state of politics in Karnataka.

Charlatans and confidence artists, with none of the qualifications desired by a good and mature democracy, have taken over the polity in the State in general and the ruling BJP in particular.

Fraudulent actions like forging documents and providing false affidavits to swindle the State’s (and the public’s) money is second nature to some of the ruling party ministers, MPs and MLAs.

As can be seen in the case of heavy industries minister Murugesh Nirani, and in the case in which the chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa and his erstwhile colleague S.N. Krishniah Shetty are in judicial custody (reported by Praja Vani), people in power have thrown all laws to the wind and behaved like professional cons.

Our elected representatives and their families are putting Frank Abagnale Jr. to shame.

The sad state of the BJP does not end with its senior ministers and career politicians. It extends to greenhorn politicians like Yediyurappa’s son B.Y. Raghavendra, the Chitradurga MP Janardhana Swamy and others.

Instead of using the people’s mandate to steer and shape their own, their party’s (and the State’s) long-term future, they used their election as a godsent opportunity to secure their personal fortunes in double quick time.

These people were granted large 50’x80′ BDA sites worth Rs 3-4 crore for a meagre sum of Rs 8 lakh within months of taking oath, on the basis of false affidavits that carried outright lies in some cases and misleading information in some others.

And all this, in the era of the right to information (RTI).

It may be true that the politicians are the true reflection of our society, and perhaps it is not just politics that has gone wrong in Karnataka. After all, supporting a family’s corruption and protecting errant sons and sons-in-laws is not unknown in our society.

To give just one example, D. Javare Gowda, the former vice-chancellor of Mysore University—a well known Kannada writer who translated Tolstoy to Kannada and a one-time disciple of Kuvempu— went on a fast to save his son from corruption charges.

Octagenarian Gowda’s son is not a child. He himself is probably a grandfather in his late sixties; yet his father went on a fast to influence and threaten the State to scuttle the ongoing investigation on the irregularities he had committed while he was the VC of the same Univeristy his father had served.

A father going to jail for his son’s crimes and a son making use of the father’s influence and power to stay out of it, shows that something is truly rotten here.

Everyone, it seems, has come around to believe that corrupt practices are somehow OK if it involves members of their family.

Everyone, it seems, has come around to believe that corrupt practices are somehow OK if it involves members of their caste.

Everyone, it seems, has come around to believe that corrupt practices are somehow OK if it involves members of their party or ideology.

I know “everyone” is not the right word here, but “majority” is also not the right word as it may imply that 49.9% do not support corruption, as it is not true in this context.

The onus on exposing the corrupt and setting Karnataka back on track lies with our journalists, but they are not very different either, it seems.

I happened to visit Mudhol couple of weeks back. I was shocked to see a palatial bungalow on the town’s outskirts. It belonged to a serving minister. I am not qualified to assess monetary worth of this palace, but it was spread over acres and the people over there were saying that it had lifts inside.

It may be worth half a billion rupees, if not a billion.

The work and expansion of the sugar factory was in full swing. I had gone with a friend to the sugar mill run by the minister as he had not been paid for his sugar cane for the last six months.

So this factory has dues, but the expansion work and the bungalow next door tells the money is flowing. Where is this money coming from?

What are our journalists doing?

Can ministers or elected representatives like MLAs and MPs run private businesses or occupy offices-of-profit when they are serving a public office? I think the laws in our country are vague on this subject but the Reddy brothers’ phenomenon and that of other elected representatives underlines Karnataka’s current rot.

If Nandan Nilekani had to resign from all the posts of Infosys Technologies when he took charge of the UID position, shouldn’t the same rule be applied to our elected representatives to prevent public office from being used, abused and misused for private good?

Why are our journalists not raising this issue?

The media in Karnataka, especially the electronic news media, is now largely controlled by politicians, with four out of the five Kannada news channels being owned by active politicans. Minister Nirani also owns a channel and apparently he does not like bad press.

The BJP leader L.K. Advani said his party “can’t win the confidence of the people if its own house is bedevilled with similar weaknesses.” Kannada journalists merely—and merrily—reported it.

Now is the time for journalists in Karnataka to rid their house of corruption, fear, injustice and insecurity. In that process, maybe the cheats and frauds in the disguise of public representatives would also be controlled and be brought to book.

(Ravi Krishna Reddy is a US-returned software engineer who contested the 2008 assembly elections from the Jayanagar constituency as an independent candidate)

File photograph: Former Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa with his son B.Y. Raghavendra (extreme right) and the state BJP president K.S. Eshwarappa at the party’s state executive committee meeting in Hubli in July 2011 (Karnataka Photo News)

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