A section of Congress leaders have openly said the whole episode is an embarrassment

Congress leaders joins chorus of nepotism allegations against Siddaramaiah
news Friday, April 15, 2016 - 19:46

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is likely to face tough times ahead as Congress leaders themselves appear to be joining the chorus of voices accusing him of nepotism.

During the week Siddaramaiah has faced two quick rounds of allegations of nepotism in favour of his younger son Yathindra and the latter’s business partner. First, the CM was accused of showing favouritism towards his son by allowing him to set up a diagnostics lab on the premises of a government hospital. This was followed by allegations that Yathindra’s son’s business partner received a BDA plot in violation of the law.

These allegations themselves come on the back of the Hublot watch controversy. But unlike then, there is more than a murmur of condemnation over the current allegations.

While several ministers have said that the law had been followed while awarding the tender to the firm, a section of party leaders have spoken out against the chief minister.

Revenue Minister V Srinivas Prasad just stopped short of criticizing his cabinet colleague. “Siddaramaiah has been accused of nepotism for favouring his younger son. This has caused embarrassment to the government and the party, and has pained party workers. Let the CM himself respond to this,” he said.

Another senior leader and former KPCC president Janardhan Poojary has said, “This does not behove the government or the chief minister to act in such a manner.”

However, the strongest criticism comes from Karnataka’s party in-charge Digvijaya Singh who has “advised” Siddaramaiah to urge his son to withdraw from the company even though the latter was not legally bound to do so.

While backing Siddaramaiah’s position that nothing illegal had transpired, Singh nonetheless said that he had urged the CM to follow his “advice” as it was a matter of “propriety”.

While these are open statements, infighting is a permanent feature of the Congress party. Several leaders of the party are reportedly unhappy with the developments, coming as they do, on the back of the Hublot controversy, which has barely died down.

The lab controversy

Siddaramaiah has been facing flak over the permission granted to Matrix Imaging Solutions to set up a to set up a diagnostic facility within the premises of Bengaluru’s Victoria Hospital.

Set up in 2009, Matrix Imaging Solutions has two owner-directors: Dr CM Rajesh Gowda and Dr Yathindra Siddaramaiah, the CM's younger son. The CM has said that due process was followed and Matrix had been awarded the contract as it had bid the lowest.

While the inauguration of the lab at PMSSY has been delayed, Matrix Imaging Solutions reportedly bagged three other projects in the past after Yathindra took charge as director in August 2014. Matrix already has labs in the government-run Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiological Sciences and Research at Mysuru and Kalaburgi.

Yathindra’s business partner Rajesh Gowda is embroiled in a land deal. A company in which he is a stakeholder allegedly received a BDA plot in violation of the law. A complaint has been filed by the Ambedkar Yuva Sene with the ACB, itself controverserial, demanding an investigation into the allotment.

These developments are in stark contrast with Siddaramaiah’s attitude in June 2015, when the question about Siddaramaiah’s son Rakesh’s entry into politics came up. Then, Siddaramaiah had said that he would not want his sons to contest elections when he is contesting as he wanted his son to stand on his own feet instead of depending on his father’s fame.

In short, Siddaramaiah has a tough time ahead, not just because the opposition will not back down, but also as a section of his own party members have never fully backed him. It also remains to be seen whether an impartial investigation will occur in these two cases.

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