An employee of the Backward Classes Welfare Minister C.Puttaranga Shetty’s office has been caught while transporting unaccounted cash worth ₹25.76 lakhs. According to the sources, the Minister is likely to be questioned by the Anti-Corruption Bureau in the case.
The Vidhana Soudha police on January 4 arrested one SJ Mohan Kumar who worked in Mr Shetty’s office. The case has been transferred to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) for investigation. According to reports, Kumar has claimed that he had collected the money from representatives of multiple contractors and that it was meant for the Minister.
It is widely speculated that the money was allegedly “kickback” in lieu for grants received by the contractors to build concrete roads in colonies where nomad tribes live in Kampli, Koppal, Tumakuru Rural, and Devanahalli.
However, according to a report in The Hindu, a senior officer has claimed that Mohan Kumar’s testimony alone will not be enough to nail the Minister. Corroborating evidence attesting to his claims will be required to proceed against the Minister. “A call will be taken to question the Minister involved after examining the corroborative evidence,” said a senior officer.
The ACB probe is underway and they are seeking to establish the identity of the middlemen and contractors who allegedly paid the bribe. “The projects for which allegedly bribes were taken has been identified and now we will recover the related files from the ministry. We will interrogate the alleged middlemen and contractors soon,” another senior officer said.
Meanwhile, the minister, Shetty has disowned Kumar and rubbished the claims made by him. He had even tried to get a gag order for the media to not report on the case, but his request was turned down. The opposition BJP has been vociferous in its demand for the Minister’s resignation. However, top Congress leaders such as Siddaramaiah, G. Parameshwara and Dinesh Gundu Rao have defended Shetty and stated that since the investigation is yet to be complete and allegations are not proven yet, there is no need for his resignation that there was no need for any action as the allegations have not been proved.
Shetty, an MLA from Chamarajanagar, is considered to be a close side of former Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah. However, Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy has recently declared that if any wrongdoing is found, the guilty will be punished. He has asked time for the ACB probe to be completed before taking any action against the Minister.