BJP wants ED to probe Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah’s watch

Sid jokes apart possession of costly watches is something Karnataka CM needs to explain
news Costly gifts Wednesday, February 24, 2016 - 10:38

Karnataka state president of the BJP, Pralhad Joshi on Saturday wrote a letter to the Director Enforcement, Department of Revenues Govt of India to enquire into the matters relating to the controversial watch used by CM Siddaramaiah purportedly worth Rs 70 lakh. 

 

The News Minute earlier this month had reported when the issue first came to light with Former Karnataka CM and JD(S) head HD Kumaraswamy saying it was wrong on part of Siddaramaiah to sport such luxurious accessories when farmers were dying in the state. He further went on to put together a ‘detective squad’ and put out videos in the public domain to establish the watch on CM’s hand is worth Rs 70 lakh.

He further alleged that the CM’s goggles are also of a luxury brand which cost a minimum of Rs 50,000. The watch in question is believed to be a diamond studded Hublot watch. Hublot is a Swiss luxury watch brand, it was the official timekeeper for FIFA world cup 2014 and has ambassadors like Diego Maradona. In reply to such allegations, Siddaramaiah said the watch was a gift, without mentioning who gifted it to him. He said that it was not worth so much and was ready to sell his watch and goggles for Rs.5 lakh.

But the matter did not end there. There have been numerous reports on other branded watches that the CM had been seen using. A Bangalore Mirror report said," The photographs that our lensmen have been shooting bear out more than one Rolex, at least one Audemars Piguet, Tissot, Hermes shoes among others."

Though the issue is now limited to some political bashing and satires on the Chief Ministers possessions, if one was to take the CM to court, it could spell serious trouble for him, Former Lokayukta of the state Santosh Hegde said, “Any government official or party leader should declare any gift worth above Rs 5,000. Siddaramaiah may also be charged for misconduct if he received gifts while he was in office. So this way, the matter may be problematic for him, he should declare details about the watch as soon as possible.”

According to existing rules, the CM should not accept valuable gifts except from close relatives, and he or members of his family should not accept any gifts at all from any person with whom he may have official dealings. With the BJP asking for an enquiry, this could mean trouble for the Congress. The zilla parishad and taluk panchayat elections are underway in some parts of the state, this even as the BJP secured more seats than the JDS and Congress combined in the recent BBMP elections.  

Bangalore Mirror in an article on the same pointed out how another Congress man CM Ibrahim was dropped from the cabinet when he was ‘gifted’ an expensive Role watch more than three decades ago.

Even in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu, CM Jayalalithaa apart for his disproportionate assets case is likely to give her oppositions a leeway for the upcoming polls as the Supreme Court has listed the US Dollars Gift case against the TN CM as one of the several final-disposal cases which it will take up for speedy completion in early 2016. 

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