Yeddyurappa can be prosecuted: Hegde


Bangalore: Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde Wednesday sought the trial of Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and four ministers for corruption over illegal mining, threatening the future of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) first government in the country’s south.

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“There is recommendation to prosecute everybody named in the report under the Prevention of Corruption Act,” Hegde told journalists soon after his 25,228-page report was handed over to Chief Secretary S.V. Ranganath. The report caused a political storm although some of its contents were known.

Governor H.R. Bhardwaj, who has had a running fued with the chief minister, is likely to act on the report late Wednesday. He has vowed to go “strictly by the recommendation of the Lokayukta and not do anything more than that”.

Besides the chief minister, Hegde recommended the trial of mining magnates and ministers, the Reddy brothers — G. Janardhana (tourism) and G. Karunakara (revenue) — and their associate and Health Minister B. Sriramulu as well as a Yeddyurappa loyalist, Housing Minister V. Somanna.

A former Supreme Court judge, Hegde also named former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal-Secular for granting license to two firms in violation of rules and Congress Rajya Sabha member and mining baron Anil Lad, BJP legislator B. Nagendra and 787 officials of various ranks.

Hegde said about Yeddyurappa, who visited the famed Tirupati temple in the morning: “I have made recommendation to the governor to take further steps in this regard (prosecution of the chief minister).”

“Competent authority to take action against chief minister is the governor and hence have sent copy of the report to him,” he said.

In explosive findings, Hegde found that the state government had withheld action against companies because they donated large sums of money (Rs.10 crore) to a trust run by Yeddyurappa’s sons.

The report also said that a firm involved in illegal mining paid Rs.20 crore to buy an acre of land near Bangalore although its market cost was only Rs.1 crore. The land belonged to the chief minister’s sons.

The Lokayukta said that these transactions coupled with inaction against some of these firms “may come within the purview of Prevention of Corruption Act”. So he urged the governor to “take further steps” against the chief minister.

As Hegde made his findings public, Yeddyurappa, who was defiant earlier in the day, went into a huddle with legal experts and ministerial and party colleagues at his residence here.

The 68-year-old politician, who still has two years to go as chief minister, is set to leave for New Delhi to consult the party leadership.

In New Delhi, the BJP avoided defending the chief minister. Spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said: “It will take some time to go through the voluminous report. After that we can take some decision.”

Hegde said illegal mining in the last few years had caused a loss of Rs.16,085 crores to the state.