With the 2023 Karnataka Assembly polls fast approaching, the Congress’ Karnataka unit has levelled serious allegations against the ruling BJP government.
It said the state government enhanced the estimation of many projects, while tenders were rolled out in order to raise funds for the polls.
Based on a letter written by the BJP’s Hosadurga MLA Goolihatti Shekhar, Congress leaders alleged irregularities in all the major departments, including the Public Works Department (PWD).
The BJP MLA, in his letter, alleged irregularities, lack of transparency, and corruption in the rolling-out of tenders worth ₹22,000 crore in the state’s Water Resource Department.
‘Will cancel all tender work orders’
Accusing the BJP government of indulging in corruption, KPCC president DK Shivakumar told reporters in Bengaluru: “In a hurry, the state government is preparing tenders of all the departments — including health and power. If a project’s estimated cost is ₹500 crore, it is being enhanced to ₹1,000 crore.”
He added: “We are ready to provide the information about the previous estimation of every project. In the major departments such as Water Resource, PWD, and Power, the project estimation cost has been doubled. Some projects are being cleared in the Cabinet, and some are not. Projects worth ₹22,000 crore and ₹9,000 crore in the Irrigation and Minor Irrigation Department and PWD, respectively, are being cleared.”
He also said: “The BJP government has entrusted the job to finalise the contractors, for the projects, on the local MLAs. Even the Cabinet ministers have been given the responsibility to find contractors to carry out the works. The ruling party’s ministers and legislators are negotiating the commission with the contractors to raise poll funds.”
Pointing to the Hosadurga MLA’s letter to the additional chief secretary on the irregularities in the Water Resource Department, Shivakumar said: “A BJP MLA himself has alleged corruption, lack of transparency, and loopholes in the Water Resource Department.”
He alleged: “In order to calm down disgruntled BJP leaders, mainly those lawmakers who are not in the Cabinet, they are being given projects worth up to ₹2,000 crore. These lawmakers are also allowed to choose the contractors for the sanctioned works and take cuts in the project.”
The KPCC president added: “Many Cabinet ministers and contractors have detailed everything about the ongoing irregularities in the BJP government with us.”
‘BJP clearing bills of those who pay commission’
Accusing the BJP government of taking cuts in the projects, Shivakumar said: “Projects worth thousands of crores of rupees are pending and even the bills. The government is not clearing the bills of those contractors who have completed the works. Instead, it is clearing the bills of contractors who are paying cuts.”
He added: “This is not confined to one department: It is being practised in all the departments. The works are being distributed through the Karnataka Rural Infrastructure Development Limited (KIRDL). There is no transparency in the tender process and works have not been given to those who have eligibility.”
ನೀತಿ ಸಂಹಿತೆ ಜಾರಿಯಾಗಲಿರುವ ಹಿನ್ನೆಲೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಭ್ರಷ್ಟ BJP ಸರ್ಕಾರವು ಚುನಾವಣೆಗೆ ಹಣ ಹೊಂದಿಸಲು ಬೀದಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ನಿಂತು ಕಾಂಟ್ರಾಕ್ಟರ್ಗಳಿಂದ ಕಮಿಷನ್ ವಸೂಲಿ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿದೆ. ಅವರ ಮನೆಬಾಗಿಲಿಗೆ ಹೋಗಿ ಟೆಂಡರ್ ನೀಡುತ್ತಿದೆ. ನೀರಾವರಿ, ಆರೋಗ್ಯ ಸೇರಿದಂತೆ ಹಲವು ಇಲಾಖೆಯಲ್ಲಿನ ₹500 ಕೋಟಿ ಟೆಂಡರ್ ಅನ್ನು ₹1000 ಕೋಟಿಗೆ ಮಾಡಿಸಿದೆ.
— DK Shivakumar (@DKShivakumar) February 15, 2023
With regard to clearing the bills related to Bengaluru City, Shivakumar said: “A person was entrusted with the job of clearing the bills of Bengaluru City in the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO). He clears the bills only when a certain percent of the cut is given to him.
“We are cautioning the government to stop this immediately. We are also warning the contractors and government officials. The Congress will come to power in 45 days. We will cancel all the tender work orders issued by the BJP government in the last six months.”
He added: “We will order an inquiry on the alleged irregularities in the tender work orders. We will not spare any contractors, officials and politicians. We will expose the 40-percent-commission BJP government in the coming days.”
Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader and former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah said: “The BJP government is looting the public exchequer. In order to raise funds for the upcoming Assembly polls, the government is approving the projects. There is no transparency in it. Even the project estimation cost has been enhanced two to threefold with only the intention to take commissions.”
He added: “The is a continued part of the 40 percent commission. There are pending bills of over ₹20,000 crore in all the departments. The works are being given to those who pay commission. This culture started during the BJP government. It originated from the CMO.”
Congress leaders said that they would raise this issue in the ongoing budget session in the Assembly.
BJP is looting public exchequer: Surjewala
AICC general secretary and Rajya Sabha member Randeep Singh Surjewala, who is also in charge of the Karnataka Congress, criticised the ruling BJP government in the state.
“The Bommai government has no role to play in the next budget as the tenure of this government is over. To further the object of 40 percent commission, the government is looting the exchequer,” lashed out Surjewala.
He added: “This is a racket of corruption being unleashed by the Basavaraj Bommai-led government. We warn all the ministers, government officials and contractors that are part of this. The Congress government will constitute a full inquiry and cancel all such tenders.”
Surjewala also said: “We will initiate civil and criminal proceedings. So, the government should stop the looting of public exchequer in order to further your unholy objectives.” retorted Surjewala.
Government ready for an enquiry: Bommai
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai refuted the Congress allegations and demanded evidence to launch an enquiry on the alleged irregularities in the tender process.
Responding to the allegations, Bommai told reporters: “They are recalling all the misdeeds that were done during their tenure. They are threatening the contractors not to take up any work or else they will launch an inquiry if they come to power in the state. This clearly displays that if they come to power, they will loot. They have expressed their agenda.”
He hit back: “They have not proved a single case related to the alleged 40 percent commission. They can register complaints, and investigations will be conducted. The Lokayukta is investigating the alleged irregularities reported during their tenure. Let them first answer to the corruption of their government.”
The chief minister also said that if Goolihatti Shekhar provided evidence to back up his allegations, an inquiry would be ordered.