Is government planning to dump Lokayukta report?

BJP likely to ask Lokayukta to revisit its report on illegal mining as it does not cover Congress regime, rekindling hopes for Sriramulu's re-induction

The BJP government mulling to ask the Lokayukta to revisit its report on illegal mining demanding inclusion of the Congress' tenure between 1999 and 2004 into the probe looks like an effort of the party to undermine the controversial report and re-induct its indicted leaders like B Sriramulu into the cabinet.

With the Lokayukta post lying vacant after Justice Shivaraj V Patil resigned after being linked to a land scam and the appointment of the new Lokayukta is in stalemate. And the government can well find an excuse to postpone the matter further.

B Sriramulu, who resigned as an MLA last month, is likely to withdraw
his papers hoping to be re-inducted into the cabinet

In fact today's cabinet scheduled meeting was expected to discuss the matter that Lokayukta should re-visiting the case and submit a comprehensive report, including the irregularities done by the S M Krishna government between 1999 and 2004.

According the sources in the government, now the issue won't be discussed in the cabinet meeting as the review committee is yet submit its report on the Lokayukta report. The matter will be discussed in the next Cabinet meet.

After Lokayukta Justice N Santhosh Hegde submitted the report on 27 July, the government referred it to the review committee headed by K Jayraj, additional chief secretary, as some 617 government officials across six departments, including forest, revenue, mines and geology, were indicted in it. Jayraj said the panel was studying the report and would submit it by 17 Oct.

As per the BJP government's direction, the Lokayukta conducted an investigation into the Belekere iron ore theft case rattled the state politics in 2010, and the probe covered the irregularities occurred between 2008 and 2010.

Hegde submitted the report a couple of days before his retirement on August 3, and the report created a ripples across the nation, taking a toll on senior BJP leaders, including chief minister B S Yeddyurappa who had to step down owing to his indictment.

As Sriramulu along with his mentors, Janardhana Reddy and Karunakara Reddy, was indicted in the report and he was not re-inducted to the cabinet after D V Sadananda Gowda replaced Yeddyurappa.

However, the report raised the eyebrows the saffron party as there was no mention of Congress leaders in it.
Although former chief minister N Dharma Singh was indicted in the interim report that had been submitted earlier, Governor H R Bharadwaj, a self-styled loyal Congressman, had exonerated him.

The governor's move gave the Yeddyurappa faction an excuse to rubbish the report.

By referring back the case to the Lokyaukta, the BJP government can score on two counts. Firstly, it can pave way for Sriramulu's re-entry to the cabinet and secondly, it can corner the Congress by digging up the corruption dirt.

Sriramulu, who resigned as an MLA protesting the humiliation he was facing in the BJP, is likely to withdraw his resignation in a day or two.

While Yeddyurappa camp is backing his re-induction into the cabinet, senior leaders including the state BJP president K S Eswarappa are opposing the move.

"It will send out a wrong signal, if we take people indicted in the Lokayukta report in the Cabinet. Sriramulu's case is not finalised yet," Eswarappa said.

However, he felt re-visiting the illegal mining case was necessary as the previous investigations have left out the Congress leaders.

"It is good that the investigation covers the irregularities done by the Congress leaders also, but it must not be an excuse to provide an escape route for the BJP leaders," said former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy, who is also indicted in the report.

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