‘BMS Trust handed over to private persons’: HD Kumaraswamy alleges BJP-trustee nexus

The BM Srinivasaiah Educational Trust runs five institutions in Bengaluru, and set up the first engineering college in India.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Feb 23, 2023 | 6:59 PMUpdated Feb 23, 2023 | 7:00 PM

‘BMS Trust handed over to private persons’: HD Kumaraswamy alleges BJP-trustee nexus

Miffed with the prolonged silence of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) over allegations of corruption levelled by him, JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy went public with his concerns.

The former chief minister and JD(S) Legislature Party chief accused the ruling BJP government in the state of having established a corrupt nexus with trustees of the BM Srinivasaiah (BMS) Educational Trust in Bengaluru for misappropriating its funds.

Kumaraswamy shared photos of BMS trustees with BJP leaders like Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, Higher Education Minister CN Ashwathnarayan, and BJP national general secretary (Organisation) BL Santhosh to allege a nexus between them.

The JD(S) politician accused BJP leaders of “selling public property for illegal enrichment of persons with vested interests”.

In his seven-page detailed letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi dated 8 February, Kumaraswamy highlighted how he, as chief minister, had rejected the proposal to hand over the trust entirely to private persons, but the BJP government that succeeded him approved it despite several violations and opposition from government’s own appointee on the board of trustees.

Kumaraswamy while making the letter public on Thursday, questioned the role of Ashwathnarayan in amending the trust deed to take it in a direction that was different from its original intent.

The BMS Educational Trust

Dr Ashwath Narayan dining with BMS Trustee members

Ashwathnarayan dining with BMS Trustee members.

The BMS Educational Trust, which runs the BMS brand of institutions in Bengaluru, was formed in 1957. It established the first private engineering college in the country.

At the directions of the eminent functionaries in the then Mysore Maharaja Government, BM Srinivasaiah — a renowned industrialist despite having no college education, who migrated to Bengaluru from a town in Andhra Pradesh — envisioned the first private engineering college of the country in Bengaluru.

The charitable trust has been running five colleges in the city — BMS College of Engineering, BMS Evening College of Engineering, BMS College for Women, and BMS Law College on Bull Temple Road, and BMS Institute of Technology (Engineering College) in Yelahanka.

According to Kumaraswamy, the state government gave more than ₹100 crore since 1968 as grants from the exchequer in addition to other funds for setting up the BMS Engineering College and the trust.

“Government land measuring 35,450 square feet and another 24,000 square feet of land at prime locations in Basavanagudi were given for BMS College for Women and BMS Law College, respectively,” he said.

Another plot from prime temple land measuring 40,000 square feet on Bull Temple Road, belonging to the Muzrai Department, was given to the trust for setting up a hospital, which has now been illegally given for lease to a private nursing college, alleged Kumaraswamy.

Moreover, land measuring 4.3 acres at the New Airport Road in Chikkajala was given at 25 percent of its market value to the trust for building its law college, he claimed.

More allegations

Photograph of BMS Trustee Members released by HDK

Photograph of BMS Trustee Members with BJP Organisation Secretary BL Santhosh, as released by Kumaraswamy. (Supplied)

“Four important clauses of the Original Trust Deed have been intentionally amended with ill-motives to scuttle the possible successorship of the state government to the status of the ‘donor trustee’ — such as the appointment of a life trustee and empowering him/her to appoint a successor when the donor trustee has no heir,” JD(S) spokesperson Rangothri Kumar told South First.

Kumaraswamy, on 22 September last year, demanded the ouster of Ashwathnarayan, accusing him of quid pro quo for clearing files that allowed realtor-billionaire P Dayananda Pai’s appointment as the lifetime trustee of the BMS Educational Trust.

The minister dismissed HDK’s allegations in the Assembly session, where the debate regarding this issue went on for three hours.

Meanwhile, government trustee N Manjula, an IAS officer, also raised objections to the appointment of Pai as a lifetime trustee. Even IAS officer Madan Gopal earlier objected to the alleged irregularities in the trust.

BJP reaction

Meanwhile, BJP spokesperson Mahesh G told South First: “The transaction was between two parties, and the BJP had nothing to do with it.”

He added about Kumaraswamy: “If he had enough evidence and substance to back up his allegations, he could have approached the appropriate authorities and filed a complaint, and they would have taken action. Why wait until the elections? These are all attention-seeking tactics.”

Mahesh also said: “The BJP is a party that has zero tolerance for corruption. If he has something genuine by way of evidence, he could take it up with many competent agencies and not make prejudiced allegations.”