Claiming it has Proof Yeddyurappa Received Kickbacks, Congress Dares BJP to File Corruption Case
BJP President Amit Shah with State Unit President B S Yeduyurappa during the launch of party’s 75-day ‘Nava Karnataka Nirmana Parivartan Yatra’ in Bengaluru (File photo: PTI)
Bengaluru: The Karnataka Congress on Friday released documents of the Income Tax department that levied a Rs 2-crore plus penalty on BJP state president and CM-candidate BS Yeddyurappa for having taken kickbacks in an irrigation scam.
The Income Tax Assessment Order, passed in March 2016, had concluded after its investigations that Yeddyurappa did not declare more than Rs 4 crore that he is alleged to have received from one company – the Murudeshwar Power Corporation, owned by the RNS Group – for the award of a tender to execute the Upper Bhadra Project.
“The I-T department’s order came on 28 March 2016. I now demand from Mr Modi and Mr Shah, what action have you taken against him. They must suo motu register a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act. If they don’t do that, we will file cases against Mr Yeddyurappa in the anti-corruption bureau,” said Congress MLC and spokesperson VS Ugrappa at a press conference saying he will bring the documents into public domain.
Significantly, though the bribery allegations relate to the years between 2008 and 2011, when Yeddyurappa was the Chief Minister of Karnataka, the issue of notices, recording responses and final order levying a penalty took longer – and came only in 2016 March.
Repeated notices served on Yeddyurappa, all through 2015 and early 2016, were returned with ‘no compliance’.
The expose comes as a setback to Yeddyurappa and BJP’s campaign for the Karnataka Assembly elections slated for next month, where they have used corruption as a campaign plank against the Congress government here.
The I-T department, which comes under the BJP-ruled Central government, notes that its observations are based on documents recovered during search and seizure operations in the office of the Vice-President (Finance) of the RNS Group.
“The seized documents reveal that all such illegal payments were booked under a head ‘sundry’ in the accounts of RNS and its sister concerns. However, when accounts were finalised for statutory purposes, the expenses under the head ‘sundry’ were not made part of the accounts. In nutshell, the evidence is substantial and is backed up by other corroborations and they are not mere scribblings or jottings,” the I-T Assessment Order reads.
The project for which the tender was awarded to this group was worth Rs 1,033 crore and as Yeddyurappa was the chief minister and headed the Karnataka Neeravari Nigama Limited, which awarded the contract to Murudeshwar Power Corp in 2008-09.
“It is well-established that the assessee (Yeddyurappa) was holding an important public office and in a position of power… The assessee’s name is also found in the list of beneficiaries maintained by the VP (Finance) of RNSIL. Therefore, I have reason to believe that he is one such recipient of these out of book payment in connection with the Upper Bhadra Project,” the Assessment Order states.
The BJP shied away from responding to the allegations, with Yeddyurappa evading questions on the issue. BJP spokesperson S Prakash, however, said that the issue was one between the I-T department and an individual, such disputes are common and his (Yeddyurappa’s) CA would respond to the notices.
“The allegation is based on a statement by that VP (Finance). Anyone can say anything, that is not proof,” he told News18.
The episode has taken the wind out of the BJP’s anti-corruption campaign plank in Karnataka, with the Congress repeatedly calling Yeddyurappa a ‘jail-bird’ for being accused in the illegal mining and land denotification scams, and now, this latest one relating to kickbacks in an irrigation project tender.