Bengaluru: Sticking to their demand for a judicial probe by a sitting Supreme Court Judge into the kickback charges levelled by the contractors association, the Congress in Karnataka while questioning the credibility of the inquiry by officials on Saturday urged the government to at least form a House Committee to look into it.
Following Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai ordering an inquiry into the charges levelled by contractors, Chief Secretary P Ravi Kumar on Friday had sought a report from Additional Chief Secretary (water resources) Rakesh Singh on any irregularities found in the tender process or bill payments with respect to works costing more than Rs 10 crore, and look into complaints of irregularities.
In their letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July, the Karnataka State Contractors Association had claimed harassment by ministers, elected representatives and others, accusing them of demanding up to 30 percent of the tender amount for approving a contract and 5-6 per cent towards release of ‘Letter of Credit’ against pending bills.
Water resources was one of the departments that the contractors had named.
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“Let them inquire in to last ten years, we don’t have any objection, Whoever is involved, whether they are from Congress or JD(S) or the BJP, the guilty must be punished, as this is public money, there should be a proper account for it,” Congress leader D K Shivakumar told reporters here.
Seeking to know how ACS Rakesh Singh can do the inquiry, he said, “he (Singh) may be a good officer, that’s a different question, let them order a judicial probe by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court or else let them constitute a House Committee. I demand a House Committee probe, let their own party member be its Chairman.”
The KPCC chief said let the government at least constitute a House Committee, as they will not agree for a judicial committee probe.
Further stating that Congress will raise and fight on the issue inside the state legislature during the upcoming session, Shivakumar said, “it is a complaint from the contractors association, it is a registered association with about one lakh members associated with various sectors.”
Bommai had said that projects tendered during the Congress’ tenure will be included in the inquiry he has ordered into the charges of corruption levelled by the state contractors association, and charged the grand old party of being the originator of percentage culture.
Meanwhile, seeking a judicial probe, Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah in Mysuru asked, “will any one get an inquiry done by an officer who is from the very department, where corruption has allegedly taken place? Let there be judicial inquiry from a Supreme Court sitting judge, and let the guilty be punished.”
Terming the government’s decision to get the inquiry done by officials who are heads of the departments as an “eyewash”, he said his party was no objection to inquiry being extended to Congress’ tenure.
Hitting back at the CM’s allegation that percentage culture began and existed during Congress tenure, Siddaramaiah asked, “whether the Contractors association had written any such letter to PM alleging corruption during Congress’ tenure ?”
Intensifying their attack against the government on the charges made by the contractors, a Congress delegation on Thursday met Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot, urging him to recommend imposition of President Rule in the state, alleging “failure of constitutional machinery”.