Governor Locks Horns With Karnataka Government


Bangalore: The row over naming a new Lokayukta (ombudsman) in Karnataka intensified  with Governor H.R. Bhardwaj charging the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party with attempts to shield its leaders indicted in the mining scam.

In the most direct attack on the government over naming the new Lokayukta, he said it was trying to “whitewash” cases against “criminals”.

Bhardwaj, a veteran Congressman and former central law minister, and the BJP government have been having running feud over several issues since he became governor in June 2009. BJP came to power for the first time in Karnataka in May 2008.

Bhardwaj has refused to accept the government’s recommendation to appoint former Kerala high court chief justice S. R. Bannurmath as the new Lokayukta following a row that he had built a house in Bangalore on a site meant for civic amenities like park or building for community use.

The anti-corruption body has been headless since Sep 19 when Shivaraj V. Patil, a former Supreme Court judge, quit after a row over his acquiring two house sites in Bangalore from two housing societies.

It “will be explosive” if he spoke on the motive of the government (on insisting on Bannurmath’s appointment), Bhardwaj told reporters on the margins of a function at Raj Bhavan (Governor’s residence) here.

”This is just to help those criminals,” he said without naming BJP leaders indicted in the illegal mining report by the then Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde.

Hegde had named BJP first chief minister B. S. Yeddyurappa and three ministers, including mining barons Gali Janardhana Reddy and Gali Karunakara Reddy, in his report. Yeddyurappa quit July 31 and the new government headed by D.V. Sadananda Gowda took over Aug 4.

The Gowda cabinet has not accepted Hegde’s report and has sought clarifications on his references to political leaders.

On why he is not accepting Bannurmath, the Governor said: “I don’t want say anything in writing on a former Chief Justice. I will give you the Supreme Court judgement against the gentleman. But I don’t want to say publicly because he is a former Chief Justice.” 

Though Bhardwaj has been telling the media that he has not accepted Bannurmath’s name, Sadananda Gowda insists that the Governor has not official rejected the recommendation. He has been asserting that his government will look for another person only after Bhardwaj officially rejects Bannurmath’s appointment.

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