Karnataka gets new Lokayukta Aug 3, maybe a chief minister


Bangalore : Karnataka will get a new Lokayukta in Shivaraj Patil Aug 3 and, hopefully, a new chief minister too that day to succeed B.S. Yeddyurappa who quit Sunday after being indicted by outgoing ombudsman N. Santosh Hegde.

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Nitte Santosh Hegde, a former judge of the Supreme Court, has become the first Lokayukta in India to recommend trial of a chief minister – Yeddyurappa – for graft.

Hegde and his successor Shivaraj Virupanna Patil were colleagues in the Supreme Court. Both retired in 2005, Patil in January and Hegde in June.

Hegde told reporters here Monday that he was leaving the office with satisfaction of having exposed politicians and officials involved in the illegal mining scam.

He submitted the over-22,000 page report July 27 along with his recommendation to prosecute Yeddyurappa for graft.

Hegde said he was not bothered about attacks on him by several BJP ministers. He has been criticized by Excise Minister M.P. Renukacharya and Housing Minister V. Somanna for naming Yeddyurappa. Somanna’s wife has also been found guilty of illegal iron ore transactions.

Hegde said he would remain active in the fight against corruption. He was a civil society member of the joint Lokpal bill draft committee set up after Gandhian Anna Hazare’s fast in New Delhi in April.

Yeddyurappa resigned Sunday a bitter man, not only over his indictment by Lokayukta.

He is, perhaps, more angry over his party central leaders showing him the door in spite of his pleas to them that what Hegde has produced as evidence of his guilt was nothing but old charges.

Yeddyurappa has retaliated by making the choice of his successor an extremely difficult task for the central leaders by insisting his nominee be the new chief minister in the only southern state the BJP is in power.

For over two days from Friday afternoon senior BJP leaders Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley tried without success to make Yeddyurappa relent.

The new leader is now to be elected here Aug 3, if by then the central leaders and the divided state unit agree on some compromise.

Yeddyurappa and his supporter are pushing to make D.V. Sadananda Gowda, Lok Sabha member from Udupi-Chikmagalur constituency, about 400 km from here, the party’s second chief minister.

Another group led by state unit chief K.S. Eshwarappa is batting for Rural Development Minister Jagadish Shettar.

Hedge’s successor Shivaraj Patil will be the sixth Lokayukta of Karnataka. He will take over on Wednesday for a five-year term.

Patil is expected to follow the practice of frequent raids by Lokayukta teams on officials suspected of having amassed wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income.

He has declined to talk to the media on his priorities till he assumes office.

The raids were started by Hegde’s predecessor N. Venkatachala, who too was a retired Supreme Court judge.

While Venkatachala himself led the raids many times, Hegde did not do so and allowed the officials to carry them out.

Till Venkatachala took over and started the highly-publicised raids, the Lokayukta was almost a dormant organization though it had been in existence since 1986.