Karnataka kickback charge: CM orders probe after contractors’ letter to PM Modi

The Congress party, in a plea, has asked Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot to impose President’s rule in the state over “failure of constitutional machinery” and “rampant corruption in the state”.

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has ordered a probe into alleged kickback charges across the state following a letter by contractors to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue.

Bommai said that he has asked Chief Secretary P Ravi Kumar to conduct a probe into the allegations made by Karnataka State Contractors Association in its letter on July 6.

The association had said that they are made to give around 25-30 per cent of the tender amount to elected representatives and others before starting work. “The contractors face an unhealthy atmosphere and are discouraged from taking up the works of Roads & Buildings. They are facing an untoward and ugly situation in getting the tender works in various departments like public works department, minor & major irrigation, panchayat raj engineering, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, health department, etc,” the letter to the PM read.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the Chief Minister said, “I don’t know why the contractors wrote to the PM, but I have asked the Chief Secretary to probe all allegations. Heads of departments will scrutinise everything and if there are any culprits, action will be taken. I have asked for a scrutiny of tenders that were finalised after my government took over.”

Saying that the investigation was ordered despite the letter not mentioning any specific case, Bommai asked, “How much more transparent can it get?”

Earlier this month, the Karnataka Cabinet has decided to constitute a committee headed by a retired high court judge along with two technical experts to approve tenders that are estimated at Rs 50 crore or more.

Meanwhile, a Congress delegation, led by senior leaders Siddaramaiah and the party’s state chief D K Shivakumar, meet Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot and urged him to invoke Article 356 and impose President’s rule in the state over “failure of constitutional machinery” and “rampant corruption in the state”.

“There is rampant corruption, maladministration in the state, which has caused loss of several thousand crores to exchequer and the same has been misused by some of the ministers, MLAs, MPs and officials,” the Congress party stated in its petition.

“The Prime Minister has become silent about this rampant corruption amounting to several thousand crores and by not initiating any action on the Government of Karnataka even after lapse of more than four months from the submission of the memorandum by the contractors’ association,” the plea added.

“So far, no action has been initiated in this issue, which shows both State and Central Governments have compromised with the corruption,” the petition stated while citing about the recent raids at the offices of Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA).

The party also sought a judicial probe by a sitting Supreme Court judge on the charges levelled by contractors and irregularities unearthed in BDA.

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