George’s ouster a major blow for Congress

| Updated on: Jul 19, 2016
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Development Minister KJ George, a key aide of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and a trusted lieutenant of the Congress high command, is being seen as a major political setback for the party in Karnataka.

George, who had been resisting pressure from Opposition parties calling for him to quit over the suicide of a police official,finally gave in after a JMFC court on Monday ordered the registration of an FIR against him and two IPS officers.

MK Ganapati, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) rank officer, had told a TV channel before ending his life, that George (then Home Minister) and the two IPS officers ought to be held responsible “if anything happens to my life”.

The Opposition seized upon the issue, staging day-and-night dharnas in both Houses, demanding both George’s resignation and a CBI probe into the officer’s death. The government turned down the demands and refused to accept the DySP’s statement as a dying declaration.

The court’s order on Monday thus came as a blow to the defiant government.

Bengaluru development

George, who represents Sarvagnanagar constituency in Bengaluru city, is reportedly a key link between the party high command and the Chief Minister. After shifting from the all-important home portfolio to Bengaluru Development, he had taken his job very seriously.In Karnataka politics, Bengaluru city — comprising both urban and rural districts — plays a pivotal role in any government formation. The city has 28 constituencies: roughly 15-20 per cent of the total Assembly seats in the State. It also has a major influence on another 70 constituencies in the neighbouring districts.

George had assumed charge of the ministry during a critical juncture. The city was notorious for its traffic and crumbling infrastructure, and major companies and industries were threatening to shift base to neighbouring States. Over the

last six months, George had been holding review meetings twice a week with government officials. During the meetings, many long-pending problems were resolved. They had also provided a platform for nongovernment organisations (NGOs) and experts in urban transport and infrastructure to come up with innovative solutions.

George’s stamp was also seen in this year’s State Budget, wherein he ensured that enough money was allocated to fund the city’s infrastructure projects, rather than the civic body (BBMP) having to scout for it.

CM lashes out at BJP

On Tuesday, Siddaramaiah accused the BJP and the JD(S) of trying to derive political mileage from the tragic death of the police officer. “BJP and JDS used the tragic incident for their own political ends and sought George’s resignation while several BJP party leaders, including Union ministers, are facing more serious charges but continue in the Cabinet,” the Chief Minister said at a hurriedly convened press conference.

“The BJP had no moral right to seek resignation as its top leaders, including Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya(who is accused of abetting the suicide of research scholar Rohit Vemula and faced a criminal case under Sec 306 of CrPC) and another Minister, Smriti Irani, are facing serious criminal charges due to death of a person in a road accident in Mathura,” he pointed out.

“Out of the 19 new ministers inducted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seven face criminal cases. Have they quit their posts?” Siddaramaiah asked, adding that former Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa Opposition leaders Jagadish Shettar and KS Eshwarappa face as many as 30 criminal cases. “What moral right do the leaders of the two parties had to seek the resignation of George, who I believe is innocent, and had in no way harassed the police official?”

Published on January 17, 2018

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