Siddaramaiah claims innocence in MUDA land scam: Why it’s not so simple

Siddaramaiah, who is accused of abusing his power to obtain prime real estate, has blamed local officials. But documents TNM accessed show that key decisions regarding the land were made over 26 years that often coincided with his tenures as MLA, deputy chief minister or chief minister.
Siddaramaiah claims innocence in MUDA land scam
Siddaramaiah claims innocence in MUDA land scam
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A long list of politicians from across party lines in Karnataka have gone to jail for their involvement in land denotification scams. BS Yediyurappa is perhaps the most high profile on that list because he was a sitting Chief Minister in 2011 when he was arrested in the 2010 land denotification scam. It is against this backdrop of land scams, which consumed all the major parties and their top leadership, that Siddaramaiah built his clean image. The luxury watch scandal in 2016 caused but a tiny dent in that image. 

Now that he too has joined the long list of Karnataka politicians who have the spectre of a ‘land denotification scam’ hanging over their names, Siddaramaiah has chosen to brazen it out saying there was nothing illegal in his family’s deal with the Mysore Urban Development Agency (MUDA). The legality can only be decided in court. But there is a key difference between the denotification scams of the past and the one in which Siddaramaiah’s name has cropped up. 

In the denotification scams of the past, including the one in which Yediyurappa was accused, the allegation was that agents acting on behalf of the politician would raise objections to lands notified for acquisition by the government. Often invoking the bogey of being ‘pro-farmer’, the politicians would use their influence to denotify portions of the land identified for a project. The rest of the multi-crore development project would come up on the remaining land, pushing up the price of the adjoining denotified portions to astronomical rates.

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