Bribery-accused BJP MLA Virupakshappa returns home to rousing welcome after anticipatory bail

Madal Virupakshappa said the money found at his home was hard-earned, and common households in Channagiri would have ₹4-5 crore.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Mar 07, 2023 | 10:55 PMUpdatedMar 08, 2023 | 6:36 PM

A screengrab of BJP's Channagiri MLA Madal Virupakshappa receiving a rousing welcome at his hometown, Madal, on Tuesday. (Supplied)

After keeping away from the public eye for three days, Channagiri MLA and BJP leader Madal Virupakshappa surfaced at his hometown, Madal, to a rousing welcome, on Tuesday, 7 March.

The MLA made the public appearance hours after the Karnataka High Court granted him interim anticipatory bail in a bribery case.

He explained to his upbeat supporters that the cash the Lokayukta police seized from his residence was hard-earned and not gained through illegal means.

“The money that was seized by the Karnataka Lokayukta from my residence was hard-earned. It was not ill-gotten money,” he asserted.

The Lokayukta police seized cash amounting ₹8.2 crore from the MLA and his son, Karnataka Administrative Service officer Prashanth Madal, on 3 March.

The MLA was seen the next day at the Chief Minister’s Office before he went incommunicado.

Money from agriculture, businesses: Madal

“I have been accused. I will come 100 percent clean in this case,” Madal told reporters after the reception accorded to him.

“The cash seized from my residence in Bengaluru was hard-earned money. I earned it through agriculture and other businesses. The Lokayukta has not verified it properly,” said the MLA.

“The high court has asked me to appear before the Lokayukta within 48 hours. I will appear before it within the stipulated time,” he added.

Virupakshappa then drew attention to areca farming in Channagiri. “Betelnut (supari) is produced on a large scale in Channagiri. There will be around ₹4-5 crore even in every common man’s residence,” he said, adding that he would produce all the relevant documents to support his claims to the Lokayukta.

Madal declared assets worth ₹5.73 crore while filing his nomination paper to contest the 2018 Assembly polls.

Besides ₹8.2 crore, the Lokayukta also confiscated 4.4 kg of gold, 26 kg of silver ornaments, two luxury cars, and investment details.

Madal also owns over 400 acres of land in Chitradurga, Shivamogga, Davanagere, and Vijayanagara districts.

Related: Meet BJP MLA Madal Virupakshappa, a Yediyurappa loyalist

On the Lokayukta charges against him, the Channagiri MLA said: “There are no charges against me. I have been booked only for being the chairman of the Karnataka Soaps and Detergent Ltd (KSDL).”

He added: “When I took over as the chairman of the KSDL, the turnover was around ₹750 crore and the profit was ₹40 crore. Now, the business has gone up to ₹1,350 crore, with a profit of ₹240 crore.”

He also said: “Our officers at the KSDL are sincere. There are no irregularities and no one has interfered in the tender process or other works related to the KSDL.”

Virpakshappa added: “If they find even a single corruption in the board, I am ready to face the charges.”

Has BJP expelled Virupakshappa?

After the corruption charges were levelled against the Channagiri MLA, several BJP members — along with Opposition leaders — demanded action against Virupakshappa.

According to BJP sources, “The state BJP disciplinary committee has recommended the party high command to initiate action against Virupakshappa. The committee also submitted a detailed report on the corruption charges the Channagiri MLA is facing. Many leaders also demanded action against him.”

Virupakshappa justified the party’s action. “The party has taken the right decision. The BJP is one of the biggest political parties in the world. Based on the allegations made against me, the party has initiated action against me,” he said.

“After I emerge clean, I will take the primary membership of the BJP. I have accepted the party’s decision. They have done the right thing by taking action against me,” he reiterated.

BJP state general secretary N Ravikumar, however, told South First that the party had not initiated any action against him.

“He has not been expelled. I am confused why he has made such a statement,” the MLC said.

‘People expressing their love’ 

On receiving a rousing welcome, Virupakshappa said: “There is no celebration or rally in my hometown. The people are expressing their love and affection as I came home after many days.”

The teary-eyed MLA told reporters: “This shows the bond I have with the public. I will be thankful to them till my last breath. They have turned up in large numbers only to talk to me, not to celebrate.”

On remaining incommunicado, he said: “I was not absconding. I was in my residence. As soon as the media claimed that I had gone underground, I appeared before the public.”

Virupakshappa appeared in public two hours after he was granted interim anticipatory bail.

“I had switched off my mobile phone as many people were calling me and I was not able to answer them. I am in my constituency,” he said, refuting claims that he had gone into hiding.

Congress hits out at BJP

Responding to Madal getting bail, the Congress blamed the Karnataka government for not arguing the case correctly in court.

The party also alleged that the Lokayukta’s legal team did not appear in court during the hearing and that the investigating officers were replaced.

“Why was the MLA not arrested even after a week? Why was he not arrested despite he was in Channagiri? Who prevented his arrest? Are the intelligence (department) and the police incompetent? [sic]” the Congress asked in a series of tweets.

The Opposition party also sought answers from the chief minister.

Objections to alleged VIP treatment

Expressing concern over VIPs getting priority treatment in courts, the Bengaluru unit of the Advocates’ Association wrote a letter to Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud on Tuesday.

In the letter, the association appealed that an MLA should be treated as a common man.

“It takes several days or weeks for posting matters like anticipatory bail pleas in the high court. However, VIP matters are entertained overnight,” it said in the letter.

“This practice would lead to the common man losing faith in the judicial system. It is of utmost importance that an MLA also should be treated as a common man,” added the association.