The State of Karnataka is crying for long due administrative reforms where bureaucrats’ refusal to budge under the culture of political patronage is pushing them either to resign from the service or from the life
The crude attempt of the Congress Government in Karnataka to give a communal twist to the suicide by a deputy superintendent of police, MK Ganapathy has come a cropper amidst a relentless campaign by the opposition BJP in and outside the State Legislature. No doubt the Kannada TV media and the subordinate judiciary in the State too should get the credit for driving the Government to the wall.
The death of the officer is only a part of the series of the extreme acts of suicide or resignation by aggrieved officers. It has exposed the rot that has set in the Karnataka Government ever since the Congress returned to power in 2013. It is being said, ‘What Karnataka is witnessing today is mafia and extortion Raj under the patronage (tacit or open) of Congress ministers and functionaries’. The Government has already succeeded in converting the Karnataka Police into ‘Congress Police’.
Ganapathy, who was found hanging in the room of a hotel at Madikeri headquarters of Kodagu District on July 7, is alleged to have committed suicide after giving an interview to a Kannada TV news channel. In the interview he had blamed the former Karnataka Minister KJ George and two senior IPS officers, AM Prasad, Additional Director General Intelligence and Pronab Mohanty, Inspector General, Lokayukta.
The incident of suicide took place when the Legislature was in session and the opposition BJP and the JD (S) raised the matter strongly. The Chief Minister Siddaramaiah stonewalled the opposition’s demand for the resignation of the Minister for Bengaluru Development, George and action against the two IPS officers. George was till recent months Home Minister of Karnataka and he was the first Christian to hold that portfolio.
To sidetrack the issue, the Government alleged on the floor of the Legislature that the BJP was communalising the death of the officer and the BJP was targeting George as he was a Christian. George himself told the BJP Leader of the Opposition, Jagadish Shettar, “You are attacking me as I am George and you are Jagadish”. However there were no takers for this fallacious argument.
However what forced George to resign was the relentless campaign by the BJP and the order issued by a judicial magistrate’s court in Madikeri directing the local police to register an FIR against George and the two police officers. The officers have approached the High Court of Karnataka seeking quashing of the FIR ordered by Smt. Annapoorneshwari, First Additional Judicial Magistrate at Madikeri.
First the Government alleged that the officer Ganapathi was under severe depression which was caused by domestic discord and that he himself was not above board. It first ordered an investigation by the State Corps of Detectives, but the opposition stood firm on its pitch for a CBI probe. Days before the resignation of George, the Congress Government announced the constitution of a commission of inquiry by a retired judge of the High Court, Justice Keshavanarayana. But the BJP stood by its demand for a CBI probe.
KJ George who represents Bengaluru City in the State Assembly, was a powerful minister in the Siddaramaiah Government with right contacts at the AICC in Delhi. At the peak of the campaign against him, he had rushed to Delhi seeking the support and blessings of the High Command. He belongs to a rich family of coffee planters of Kodagu which had migrated from Kerala. Like some of the other Karnataka politicians, George is today stated to have made it big in the real estate business.
Returning to the series of desperate actions by Karnataka officials in recent months, the alleged suicide by MK Ganapathy follows that of another deputy superintendent of police, Kallappa Handibag after he was accused of involving in kidnapping and extortion in a cricket betting case at Chickmagalur. Earlier a woman deputy superintendent of police, Anupama Shenoy had resigned from government service after a former minister PT Parameshwar Naik exerted pressure on her to be lenient to the liquor lobby in Bellary District. No doubt there is also the argument that both Handibag and Anupama Shenoy who are non IPS direct recruits to the post of deputy superintendents were maltreated by their IPS superiors. The death of Handibag is under investigation.
However besides the alleged suicide by Ganapathy, the other two cases of Congressmen harassing officials who are still alive, are the alleged intimidation of the Deputy Commissioner of Mysore District (Collector), Smt C Shikha by one Mari Gowda, who is a close confidant of none other than the Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. He is alleged to have abused and threatened the IAS officers for not heeding his ‘instructions’. The doughty woman officer filed a complaint with the police.
The other ‘live show’ on Kannada TV channels is the alleged berating of a police Sub Inspector of Police in Belgaum District by the President of the State Mahila Congress, Lakshmi Hebbalkar. She had taken the PSI to task for booking cases against some lorry owners who were involved in illegal mining and transport of sand. So far the embarrassed Government has nothing to offer in explanation than the stock pleas of communal or linguistic bias against the erring Congress leader.
However what had shaken the Congress Government earlier was the alleged suicide by an IAS officer, DK Ravi who was serving as Deputy Commissioner of Kolar District in March 2015. He was under pressure from the local politicians. His death is still being probed by the CBI.
The other cases of victimisation of senior officials are those of Smt Tulasi Maddineni, IAS who was transferred for acting against a brother of the former Minister, Shivaraj Tangadi in a land related matter in Koppal District; and the assault on another woman IAS officer, V Rashmi who was Director General of the Administrative Training Institute at Mysore by some employees of the Institute. She had levelled allegations of corruption against her predecessor, also a woman IAS officer. Rashmi was transferred and a show cause notice for indiscipline was issued to her; a woman deputy superintendent of police, Kavitha Hugar escaped death when a lorry carrying sand deliberately dashed against her jeep at Ramanagara in Bangalore Rural District. Another senior IAS officer, MN Vijaya Kumar was harassed and transferred frequently for bringing to light corruption on the part of his colleagues in the elite service. He was compulsorily retired three days before his retirement in May 2015. A 1981 batch IAS officer, Vijayakumar was of the rank of an Additional Chief Secretary. He has not taken the matter lying down and is exposing the Government at every opportunity. These are only among the few of the many cases of harassment of senior officials under Congress rule.
Though claiming to be a friend and champion of the backward classes and minorities, Siddaramaiah and his ministers have not stepped in to tackle corruption in the departments concerning those sections. The trouble with the present government is that it has been posting tainted officials to key positions which generate income for the Government and also for the politicians. It is no secret that government officials are being used as conduits to raise money (through bribe taking) for the politicians. Unfortunately some IAS and IPS officers are known to be part of a nexus to extort money from their juniors and the public at large. Some among them, who otherwise are honest and competent, are of guilty acquiescing in the corrupt acts of their juniors. Bribes for postings and transfers are known to be too common in Karnataka. n