Congress leaders had earlier claimed that equipment including test kits, beds, PPE and ventilator were bought by the state government at prices much higher than the maximum retail price.

BJP sends legal notice to Siddaramaiah DKS in row over buying COVID-19 equipment
news Coronavirus Saturday, August 01, 2020 - 09:44

Congress leaders had earlier claimed that equipment including test kits, beds, PPE and ventilator were bought by the state government at prices much higher than the maximum retail price.  

The BJP's Karnataka unit on Friday said it has sent legal notice to the leader of opposition Siddaramaiah and state Congress chief DK Shivakumar for their allegations of corruption in the procurement of COVID-19 equipment and supplies. The party termed the allegations 'baseless' and demanded public apology from the two leaders, failing which they have been threatened with legal action.

"On one side Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah say the government was not sharing information with them despite writing twenty letters... when the government did not share any information, where did you get this figure, who gave you this," BJP general secretary N Ravi Kumar asked.

Congress leaders had earlier claimed that equipment including test kits, beds, PPE and ventilator were bought by the state government at prices much higher than the maximum retail price.  

Ravi Kumar said that the statement by the Congress was intended to mislead the people and malign the reputation of the government and the Chief Minister.

"How did they say that Rs 4,167 crore has been spent? Our government, Ministers and Chief Minister have said that much amount has not been spent," he said, adding that the two leaders have been given 15 days time to reply to the notice. Siddaramaiah had last week alleged that the total expenditure of the government relating to COVID-19 was Rs 4,167 crore of which at least Rs 2,000 crore was "pocketed" by ministers and officials.

Refuting this, as many as five ministers had said the overall expenditure of the government is Rs 2,118 crore, with Rs 1,611 crore going for COVID-19 relief measures and Rs 506 crore for purchase of medical equipment.

Stating that in the legal notice it has been mentioned that allegations have caused damage to the party and the government's image, Kumar said they have sought a public apology.

"We have also warned that or else we will be forced to take up legal action in the days to come," he added.

Siddaramaiah while making the allegation had demanded inquiry by a sitting high court judge, which the government has rejected. Hitting out at Siddaramaiah for "unnecessarily" alleging corruption and seeking an inquiry from a sitting high court judge, Kumar asked the former Chief Minister about his accountability on his Hublot watch that had earlier led to controversy.

"Siddaramaiah repeatedly targets Yediyurappa saying that he had gone to jail, had D K Shivakumar gone for picnic or tour to Delhi (Tihar jail). With what morality is Siddaramaiah sitting next to Shivakumar?" he asked.

"Shivakumar's assets were Rs 251 crore in 2013 and in 2018 it was Rs 840 crore, in five years 200% increase, what business are you doing, please share it with people of state," he added, as he questioned Congress leaders' morality.

The allegations constitute a "classic case of slander which constitutes both civil and criminal defamation," the notice read.

Meanwhile, Shivakumar reiterated the demand for a judicial inquiry by a sitting judge into the allegations of corruption. Speaking to reporters at Mangaluru, Shivakumar, who is on his first visit to the city after taking charge as KPCC chief, claimed serious corruption charges have come up against the government in the purchase of equipment and other supplies during the COVID-19 crisis.

He alleged that the BJP government was indulging in corruption in the name of COVID-19 management. The government should also hold a meeting of the public accounts committee to ensure transparency in the spending of public money for pandemic management, he said.

Shivakumar said a 30-member team from the Congress will visit all districts of the state to instill confidence in people affected by the pandemic and provide them assistance.

He also criticised the government for the treatment meted out to migrant workers during the crisis.

The government has not made arrangements to provide them food and shelter though they were asked to stay back to continue with construction activities, he claimed.

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