Instead he went on a dramatic spree, placing his party in an embarrassing situtation. It was as if it was not the party but Yediyurappa in person who was running the state. His equally squalid supporters went along with him, insisting that their opinions should also be taken into consideration, as they were the people’s representatives. They were nothing of the sort. It was the Party that gave them candidacy and in the circumstances it was the Party that had the right to call anybody to order.
By his extremely arrogant behaviour, Yediyurappa has not only disgraced himself but he has offended his party and what is more brought shame on the country.
His claim that he had stopped mining of ore and therefore deserves the Nobel Prize sounded offensive considering that even while making it, the district authorities in Bellary had seized 7,448 tonnes of iron ore that was being transported in 58 wagons.
Yediyurappa was either ignorant of what was going on or had decided to look the other way, considering that between 2006 and 2010 Karnataka had exported 12.57 crore tonnes of ore of which 2.98 crore tonnes had been illegally mined. The media has estimated that the value of illicit ore is of the order of Rs.12,228 crore. As much as 73 lakh tonnes of illegal ore had been mined in just over 14 months.
According to available information three to four permits issued by different departments were needed to get the ore to the ports and each of these permits had been forged and pliant officials had been paid off. It is claimed that as many as 617 officials had received bribes to the tune of Rs. 246.6 crore. A superintendent of Police received Rs. 1 lakh bimonthly, an Additional S P Rs. 25,000 pm, Port Directors Rs. 50,000 per ship and Port staff Rs. 5,500. Apparently senior Custom Officials received Rs. 1 lakh every three months. Many exporters fooled the Reserve Bank of India into believing that they had received the payments for the ore they shipped. In fact, according to reports, the payments were never brought back but were stashed in tax havens overseas.
In his report, Justice Santosh Hedge is understood to have nailed the persons involved, among them being Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, the Reddy brothers and companies such as J S W Steel, Obulapuram (owned by the Reddy Brothers) and even the state-owned NWDG.
Mr Yeddyurappa pleades innocence. It is not that all officials were equally callous. It appears that the Chief Secretary of Karnataka had warned Yeddyurappa in writing against denotifying some land since it would be violative of Supreme Court judgements, but the Chief Minister could’nt care less. The advice was ignored.
That despite all this, Yeddyurappa had the nerve to demand of his Party leaders the right to name his successor to the Chief Ministership as also to assume the chairmanship of the state party comes as a shock.
The total loss to the state as a remit of Yeddyurappa’s involvement in mining is put down as Rs. 64,340 crore, which is more than the state’s 2011-2012 budget. It is said that if this amount is recovered it can pay for the construction of 25 flyovers, 500 kms of road, a dozen bridges plus a reservior.
Justice Santosh Hedge is sceptical about the government ever recovering that amount. He told the media: 'If they implement my report in full, they could easily recover over Rs. 50,000 crore, but I don’t think it will happen that way, considering the pulls and pressures of politics of modern times'.
Sadly, it is not the Yeddyurappa government alone that stands condemned. An earlier government under N Dharam Simgh apparently also needs to be blamed. Justice Hegde in an interm report submitted three years ago had mentioned involvement of Mr Dharam Singh and eight IAS officials as involved in illegal mining.
It comes as no suprise that in addition to Mr Dharam Singh, the name of another ex-Chief Minister, JD(S) chief H D Kumaraswamy has also been floating around. By the way of fighting back, Kumaraswamy too has got into the game of finger-pointing.
Releasing what he called 'documentary evidence' at a press conference, Kumaraswamy has alleged that Davalagiri Property Developers and Sahyadri Health Care and Diagnostics run by family members of Yeddyurappa had benefitted from Murudeshwar Power Corporation, in return for awarding the Rs 1,032 crore Upper Bhadra Lift Irrigation Scheme Package II to it. Yeddyurappa’s family members are charged with receiving Rs 13 crore as kickbacks.
Let us be clear: what all this suggests is that corruption has spread caste-wise, class-wise and party-wise and it is time nation waked up to the situtation.
The reasons why corruption has increased thousand-fold are easily identifiable. One is almost the overnight prosperity of the nation. The GDP in 1970-71 was a bare Rs 4.7 lakh crore. By 2010-2011 it had risen tenfold to Rs 48.8 lakh crore. Similarly, the per capita income in 1970-71 was a minute Rs 8,091. This has risen currently to Rs. 41,129. Household savings in 1970-71 was to the amount of Rs 4,371 crore. As late as 2008-2009 it had risen to Rs 12,61,332 crore!
In the space of 30 years the nation has become money-wise, principle-foolish. Moral values have zeroed down and are practically non-existent. And the disease has spread across the country, cutting across party lines. Worse, the nation is lacking leaders. India needs to be re-born.
To start with, all those proben gulity of corruption should be given the harshest of punishment and this is where the judiciary - the last of our sinking hopes - comes in the picture.
The shortest possible trials need to be held and the longest possible jail sentences must be imposed on those found guilty. How one hopes and prays to God to reincarnate in public life to strengthen the good and destroy the evil so that dharma may again prevail in this ancient land! Right now, some of our rulers need to be told where they belong - Tihar Jail.