Corporators ‘gang up’ against Siddaiah’s anti-graft move

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Bangalore, May 23: Probe claims Rs 532 crore was ‘misused’ for poll campaigns

An effort by BBMP Commissioner Siddaiah to prevent government money intended for City projects from allegedly being used by elected representatives in their election campaign has earned swift condemnation from the Palike Council.

In all, the Palike’s Technical Vigilance Cell under Commissioner (TVCC) froze 1,970 “bogus” works, amounting to a total of Rs 532 crore on Thursday — following a TVCC probe sanctioned by Siddaiah, when the Assembly elections were in progress.

The investigation, which scrutinised all ongoing works in the City under the special grants to ministers, MLAs, Mayor, Deputy Mayor and chairpersons of standing committees, shows that crores of rupees were being misused by the elected representatives during their Assembly election campaigns, all in the name of using the money for projects.

The Mayor and corporators across party lines flayed Siddaiah in his absence, during the Council meeting. Several expressed eagerness to see Siddaiah leave the BBMP. The Commissioner is due to retire in a week.

Palike contractor-turned-MLA Munirathna said, “What is his achievement?”
He also questioned the veracity of the TVCC probe when, according to him, none conducted a field inspection.

“How can this report be reliable when the inquiry was conducted by studying only files?” he asked. Munirathna is also a BBMP corporator from Yeshwantpur ward.

Nandini Layout corporator M Nagaraj demanded Siddaiah’s removal from the Palike. The leader of the Council, N Nagaraju, who joined in the attack, demanded to know why Siddaiah had stopped the projects.

“It was you who had given approvals and now you stopped them,” he said, addressing Siddaiah who was not present.

“Furthermore, you advertise yourself as promoting waste segregation, which is happening nowhere in Bangalore.”

Joining him, Mayor Venkatesh Murthy said grants approved by the chief minister, deputy chief minister and Mayor were also frozen, amounting to blatant disrespect.

While Begur corporator, M Srinivas, questioned the need for the TVCC, Gurappanapalya corporator Mohammed Rizwan demanded the disbandment of the vigilance cell.

JD(S) and independent corporators held a protest in the well of the House and raised slogans against the commissioner. They also staged a walkout.

Reenacting old drama

The attack on Siddaiah and the TVCC came as a stark reminder of the November 30, 2011 Council meeting when corporators grilled TVCC chief engineer N Devaraj for exposing the fake bill scam worth Rs 1,539 crore in three Assembly constituencies of Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Gandhinagar and Malleswaram, and for his decision to hand over the case to the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force. They had even demanded Devaraj’s suspension.

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