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On formation day, Karnataka longs for corruption-free times

Tuesday November 01, 2011 05:29:38 PM, V.S. Karnic, IANS

Bangalore: Corruption-scarred Karnataka Tuesday entered the 56th year of its formation, hoping that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party will not further muddy its own and the state's image with more scandals.

"Rajyothsava Day (state formation day) is a time to celebrate all Kannada-speaking areas coming under one roof. This year it is more an occasion to wonder where the state is heading," S. Saraswati, a Kannada school teacher in south Bangalore, told IANS.

Several states in India were reorganized in 1956 on a linguistic basis. Large Kannada speaking areas in neighbouring states were merged with Karnataka, then known as Mysore on Nov 1, 1956. It is since celebrated as "Rajyothsava Day" with functions across the state.

"There is nothing to celebrate for the people except for the beginning of a small stretch of Metro service in Bangalore, what with so many political leaders either in jail or facing probe for corruption," rued K. Sudhindra, a software professional in a leading multinational firm.

Such despair over the current state of affairs in the once well-governed state and worry over whether things will only worsen are no surprise as Karnataka battles to get rid of the tag of "the most corrupt state in the country".

"I hope (Chief Minister D.V.) Sadananda Gowda and (BJP leader) L.K. Advani will stick to their promises made on the eve of the Rajyothsava," said M. Mallikarjuna, a retired history professor in Bangalore.

Gowda, BJP's second chief minister in the state in less than four years, declared Monday: "I will give corruption-free administration and I will not sit in the chair even for a moment if corruption charge is made against me."

Though a large number of political leaders do make such declarations often, Gowda's promise, made in the presence of Advani at a public meeting in Udupi, assumes significance.

It came in the backdrop of his predecessor B.S. Yeddyurappa, the BJP's first chief minister in south India, being jailed in two corruption cases filed against him in January this year.

Yeddyurappa quit July 31, four days after then Lokayukta (ombudsman) N. Santosh Hegde recommended his trial for corruption in illegal mining scam.

Gowda is Yeddyurappa's handpicked man and is often taunted by Congress and Janata Dal-Secular as a "puppet" of the former chief minister.

Besides Yeddyurappa, three former BJP ministers have also been arrested, Katta Subramanya Naidu and S.N. Krishnaiah Shetty in corruption cases and mining baron G. Janardhana Reddy in illegal mining case in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.

Two ministers in the Gowda cabinet - Home Minister R. Ashoka, and Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani - are facing a police probe over land grab charges.

On Monday, one more BJP lawmaker S. Muniraju came under cloud as a complaint was filed in the Lokayukta court that he had used official clout to grab land in his constituency Dasarahalli on Bangalore's outskirts.

At his public meeting here on Oct 30, Advani made a passing reference to the scandals rocking his party in the state and repeated that corruption will not be tolerated.

He also praised Gowda for "going in the right direction" and hoped he will give "good administration". Apparently this pat on his back prompted Gowda to declare in Udupi that he will give corruption-free governance.

It will be easier said than done as he first has to establish his authority as chief minister.

Advani got the taste of the deep divisions in the party's Karnataka unit as over a dozen ministers known to be Yeddyurappa loyalists boycotted his public meeting in Bangalore.

Gowda will need more than a pat on the back from Advani to put Karnataka back on the good administration track.

(V.S. Karnic can be contacted at






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