Congress’s DK Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah had alleged corruption by the BJP in Karnataka
The BJP in Karnataka has sent legal notices to Congress leaders DK Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah on Friday over what the party said were “baseless” allegations of corruption in the procurement of medical supplies needed to fight the COVID-19 outbreak in the state.
The BJP has also demanded an unconditional apology from Mr Shivakumar, who is chief of the state unit of the Congress, and Mr Siddaramaiah, who is Leader of the Opposition and a former Chief Minister.
If an apology, and withdrawal of all allegations, is not forthcoming, the BJP notice further declared, “appropriate legal action” will be instituted against both Congress leaders.
“On one side Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah say the government was not sharing information despite writing twenty letters. When the government did not share information, where did you get this figure? Who gave you?” BJP General Secretary N Ravi Kumar, who filed both notices, demanded of the Congress, according to news agency PTI.
“How did they say that Rs 4,167 crore has been spent? Our government, ministers and Chief Minister have all said that much amount has not been spent,” N Ravi Kumar said.
“The allegations are most baseless, irresponsible and far from the truth,” he added, declaring they had been made with the intention to mislead the people and malign the image of Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa and his government.
Mr Shivakumar and Mr Siddaramaiah have been given 15 days to respond to the notices.
Last week Mr Siddaramaiah alleged the total COVID-19-related expenditure of the BJP government in Karnataka was Rs 4,167 crore, of which at least Rs 2,000 had been “pocketed” by ministers and officials.
“Misappropriation by Chief Minister of Karnataka and his minsters is more than Rs 2,000 crore. Inhumane act at a time of pandemic distress. There should a judicial enquiry by a sitting high court judge and there should a discussion in the assembly,” he wrote in a tweet.
Misappropriation by @CMofKarnataka & his minsters is more than ₹2,000 Cr. Inhumane act at a time of pandemic distress.
— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) July 23, 2020
“Prime Minister’s Office has procured ventilators at Rs 4 lakh per unit under PM Cares. But only in our state, the ventilators are procured at Rs 12-Rs 18 lakh per unit. Why do we see such a huge difference in price?” the 71-year-old politician asked.
In response as many as five Karnataka ministers said the overall expenditure was only Rs 2,118 crore, with Rs 1,611 crore meant for relief measures and Rs 506 crore for purchase of medical equipment.
Health Minister B Sriramulu told reporters that if corruption was proved “I will not sit in this chair for even one moment – I will resign… You (Mr Siddaramiah) will at least tell a lie people can believe.”
The COVID-19 crisis in Karnataka has been growing more worrisome over the past weeks, with 6,128 cases reported on Thursday – the biggest single-day spike. The previous biggest single-day spike was 5,536 cases on July 28. Overall the state has over 1.18 lakh cases, of which 2,230 are deaths and nearly 70,000 are active infections.
State capital Bengaluru is rapidly emerging as one of the worst-affected metro cities; of Thursday’s cases over 2,200 were from the urban district of the city, taking the total cases to nearly 54,000.
With input from PTI