regular-article-logo Tuesday, 26 September 2023

Karnataka: BJP MLA and his son booked in bribery case

Embarrassment for the party comes a week after Union home minister Amit Shah promised a 'corruption-free' state if the party was voted back to power in the upcoming state elections

K.M. Rakesh Bangalore Published 04.03.23, 03:53 AM
Prashanth, the MLA’s son, after he was allegedly caught accepting the bribe

Prashanth, the MLA’s son, after he was allegedly caught accepting the bribe

A BJP lawmaker in Karnataka has been booked as the main accused in a bribery case by the corruption ombudsman Lokayukta, whose sleuths allegedly caught his bureaucrat son accepting Rs 40 lakh on behalf of his father on Thursday evening.

The embarrassment for the BJP comes a week after Union home minister Amit Shah promised a “corruption-free” Karnataka if the party was voted back to power in the upcoming state elections.


A Lokayukta media statement on Friday said that accused number two Prashanth Madal, chief accountant with the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board, had demanded a Rs 81-lakh bribe on behalf of his father and BJP lawmaker Madal Virupakshappa.

Virupakshappa is chairman of the state-run Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Limited, makers of the famous Mysore Sandal soap.

The bribe was paid allegedly in exchange for a contract to supply raw materials to the company.

The controversy comes at a time the Congress has been attacking the state’s BJP government as a “40 per cent commission sarkar”.

The Lokayukta’s police wing acted on a complaint from Shreyas Kashyap, a partner in Chemixil Corporation, a Bangalore-based company.

Kashyap had alleged that his company and a rival had been told they needed to pay a bribe for the Karnataka Soaps contract.

The Lokayukta, Justice (retired) B.C. Patil, told reporters on Friday that five people including Prashanth had been arrested.

“When the Lokayukta police raided the office they recovered Rs 2.02 crore (including the Rs 40-lakh bribe). When they raided the residence (of Prashanth), they recovered Rs 6.10 crore,” Justice Patil said.

Apart from Prashanth, his private accountant Surendra and relative Siddesh, and two employees of the private company Karnataka Aromas — Albert Nicola and Gangadhar — have been arrested.

Asked about the MLA’s role in the matter, Justice Patil said: “An FIR has been registered. His role will be unearthed. An investigation is on. Whoever has any role in the matter will be investigated.”

Virupakshappa resigned as chairman of Karnataka Soaps on Friday but claimed innocence. “This is a conspiracy to target me and my family,” he said in his resignation letter, which he has made public.

A Lokayukta raid on Virupakshappa’s private home in Channagiri was continuing on Friday evening. Lokayukta sleuths also searched five other locations, including the home of Karnataka Soaps managing director Mahesh M.

A week earlier, at the BJP’s Vijay Sankalpa Yatra in Bellary, Shah had said: “Trust the Prime Minister once (more) and Yediyurappa once (more). We will form a corruption-free government and make Karnataka the number one state in southern India.”

Chief minister Basavaraj Bommai tried to claim credit for reinstating the Lokayukta. “We restored the Lokayukta to rein in corruption. Let the Lokayukta investigate without any bias,” he told reporters on Friday.

“The Congress faced a lot of allegations but buried the cases. We have always said we will conduct impartial investigations.”

Karnataka High Court had last August ordered the restoration of the Lokayukta’s police wing after abolishing the Anti-Corruption Bureau formed by the erstwhile Congress government of P.C. Siddaramaiah.

The Congress government had rendered the Lokayukta virtually idle by starving it of funds, staff and infrastructure.

State Congress president D.K. Shivakumar demanded Bommai’s resignation: “The chief minister wanted evidence (of corruption), now I demand his resignation.”

Siddaramaiah said he had been denied permission three times to talk about corruption in the Assembly.

The BJP tried to hit back, senior lawmaker and former minister K.S. Eshwarappa recalling how Shivakumar “was in Tihar Jail after a huge amount of money was recovered from his house”.

Shivakumar spent 50 days in Tihar Jail in 2018 after the Enforcement Directorate arrested him following weeklong raids on his home and office. He is out on bail.

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