Karnataka: Congress on back foot as official alleges pressure behind FIRs against Yeddyurappa

Arkadev Ghoshal
BS Yeddyurappa

The Congress was pushed onto the back foot on Saturday, August 19, when a Karnataka Administrative Services (KAS) officer said in a letter to the state's chief secretary that political pressure from the ruling party was behind the two new FIRs lodged against Karnataka BJP chief and former chief minister of the state BS Yeddyurappa.

The allegations immediately set off speculation that the Congress's move could be payback for the raid conducted by income-tax officials at the beginning of this month on party strongman DK Shivakumar, and that too at a time when more than 40 Gujarat Congress MLAs were sequestered at a resort in Karnataka owned by Shivakumar himself.

Given the official nature of the accusations, they will definitely spell some relief for Yeddyurappa, who has already been chosen as the chief ministerial candidate by the BJP for the 2018 Karnataka Assembly elections.

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Yeddyurappa's travails

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Thursday, August 17, registered filed two FIRs against Yeddyurappa in connection with de-notification of 257 acres out of the 3,546 acres of land that had been set aside by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) for the Dr Shivaram Karanth Layout.

Yeddyurappa had been chief minister when the 257 acres had been denotified in 2008. He and four others have been named in the two FIRs filed by the ACB. The denotification had taken place over 20 instances, of which preliminary probe has been completed in only two cases. Hence, the two FIRs.

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Yeddyurappa has since hit back at Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, saying the latter "is using the ACB to file cases against me."

He added on Friday, August 18: "The government has reopened 10 -year-old denotification cases against me, but I will not run away. Like other chief ministers, I too denotified land to protect the properties of the poor. I am not afraid of these cases and will continue to fight the Congress government."

Siddaramaiah

Political pressure at play?

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Now, a KAS officer named H Basavarajendra has apparently blown the whistle against the Congress government, which is seeking to return to power in 2018. He has -- in a letter to the Karnataka chief secretary -- named investigating officer Shri Balaji and JK Anthony John for allegedly putting pressure on him to implicate Yeddyurappa.

He has written in the letter: "On August 10, 2017, I received a call from Shri Balaji, DySP, ACB, to meet him at the office of ACB. I went to the office in the evening and met Shri Balaji DySP. Soon thereafter, JK Anthony John, DySp, also joined. After discussion for about half-an-hour, the said Shri Balaji started dictating a statement to his typist, as if it were a statement given by me."

The statement was made to read as if Yeddyurappa had used his clout to get the aforementioned 257 acres of land denotified, which would mean he could then be prosecuted for it.

"At the time, I intervened and stated that I do not know anything about the said fact (the denotification allegedly done by Yeddyurappa), and I clearly stated that all I have done is to discharge the duties assigned to me as the Land Acquisition Officer, who in turn had orders from the Secretariat of the Karnataka government," Basavarajendra said in his letter.

And because he objected to the entire thing, he was punished for it, said the KAS officer. "DySP Shri Balaji said that I was due for a promotion as IAS officer, and I should agree to the dictation or I should become accused in the case," he said in the letter.

Read the letter here:

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