BANGALORE: Minor irrigation minister Shivaraj S Tangadagi has landed the 50-day-old Congress government in Karnataka in its first mega problem as pressure mounts on chief minister Siddaramaiah to sack his cabinet colleague who has been mired in a string of controversies.
Soon after he took over as minister, Tangadagi courted trouble for hosting a bash, sacrificing about 3,000 chicken and 60 goats, to express his gratitude to supporters in the constituency. He was reported to have spent about Rs 15 lakh on the bash that raised the hackles of animal activists and opposition leaders.
A week later, the minister got embroiled in another controversy over the transfer of Koppal deputy commissioner Tulsi Maddineni. Tangadagi is believed to have pressured Siddaramaiah for her transfer for the order to demolish the bungalow, built by the minister’s brother Nagaraj on encroached land in Koppal.
According to the DC’s report, Nagaraj had allegedly encroached upon an acre of agricultural land belonging to one G Ram Mohan at Basaveshwar layout in Koppal district in 2008. Later, he got the land registered in his name, reportedly by producing some fake documents.
Ram Mohan, who realized the irregularity months later, filed a complaint with the DC. The DC conducted an inquiry and ordered a stay on the construction, which was nearing completion.
After becoming minister, Tangadagi, who was also the agricultural co-operatives minister in the previous BJP government, is alleged to have put pressure on Maddineni to decide the case in favour of his brother but she ordered the demolition.
The minister denied the allegations. “I cannot be held responsible for my brother’s problems. I have not used any influence to transfer the DC. It’s all a concocted story created by media and some opposition party leaders,” said Tangadagi.
Asked about the issue, Maddineni said she would stand by the report she submitted to the government and added it was unclear why she was transferred from Koppal.
The minister has been involved in another controversy. On May 8, when Tangadagi’s supporters were celebrating his victory at Hosajooratagi bursting crackers and sprinkling vermilion, a terrified bullock ran amok. A farmer’s 11-year-old son Somanath lost one of his eyes. Tangadagi said: “They are accusing me as if I pulled out his son’s eye. I arranged for his treatment at Narayana Netralaya in Bangalore. The doctors said there was no eyeball and could not do anything. What can I do?”