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‘Elephant came from Karnataka’: Congress govt releases Rs 15 lakh for trampling victim in Kerala’s Wayanad on Rahul Gandhi’s orders, BJP objects

Earlier, when protests erupted in Wayanad after the incident, Khandre argued that it was incorrect to label elephants as "Karnataka elephants" or "Kerala elephants" as they are migratory.

On 19th February, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Karnataka raised an objection to the state government’s aid worth 15 lakh released for a man who died in an elephant attack in Wayanad, Kerala. Notably, the money was released after Rahul Gandhi instructed to do so, stating the elephant that attacked the deceased man was originally from Karnataka.

In a post on X, BJP Karnataka wrote, “Shocking loot of Karnataka taxpayers’ money to please Gandhi-Scion Rahul Gandhi! Congress government has illegally disbursed Rs.15 lakh in “compensation” to a deceased individual from Rahul Gandhi’s Wayanad constituency in Kerala, attributing his death to elephant trampling, claiming that the wild animal belonged to Karnataka.”

In a post on X, BJP Karnataka wrote, “Shocking loot of Karnataka taxpayers’ money to please Gandhi-Scion Rahul Gandhi! Congress government has illegally disbursed Rs.15 lakh in “compensation” to a deceased individual from Rahul Gandhi’s Wayanad constituency in Kerala, attributing his death to elephant trampling, claiming that the wild animal belonged to Karnataka.” They added, “This loot comes amidst severe drought and distress in Karnataka with over 600 farmers ending their own lives. Yet, the Congress government, facing severe fiscal deficits & resource shortages for vital development, shamelessly diverts taxpayer money to appease Rahul Gandhi, while neglecting the state’s pressing needs. CM Siddaramaiah and his ministers owe an explanation on why an official letter is addressed to AICC General Secretary KC Venugopal who holds no constitutional position? Is the Congress government admitting that it’s funnelling taxpayers’ money at the behest of the Congress High Command?”

They added, “This loot comes amidst severe drought and distress in Karnataka with over 600 farmers ending their own lives. Yet, the Congress government, facing severe fiscal deficits & resource shortages for vital development, shamelessly diverts taxpayer money to appease Rahul Gandhi, while neglecting the state’s pressing needs. CM Siddaramaiah and his ministers owe an explanation on why an official letter is addressed to AICC General Secretary KC Venugopal who holds no constitutional position? Is the Congress government admitting that it’s funnelling taxpayers’ money at the behest of the Congress High Command?”

In the post, they also shared a letter issued by Eshwar B Khandre, Karnataka State Minister for Forest, Ecology, and Environment, to Rahul Gandhi. The letter mentioned that the state government announced compensation to deceased Ajeesh’s family, who “lost life due to elephant trampling in Wayanad, Kerala”. The letter said that Gandhi advised KC Venugopal, general secretary of the All India Congress Committee, to release the funds, and its message was conveyed to Khandre. He then discussed the matter with CM Siddaramiah, and accordingly, the state government set aside funds for the compensation.

In the letter, Khandre claimed that an elephant named Makna was relocated to Bandipur Tiger Reserve in November 2023 from Belur of district Hassan in Karnataka. The elephant had a radio collar. He was later seen in the Wayanad area of Kerala. Khandre then claimed that it was Makna who attacked Ajeesh, leading to his death.

Furthermore, Khandre said Karnataka has 6,395 elephants, the highest in the country. As the forest cover decreases, the number of human-animal conflicts rises. He said, “In this regard, I am planning to have a meeting of Forest Ministers of Kerala and Tamil Nadu and work out a plan of action to have a permanent solution for the menace to avoid man-animal conflict”.

Objecting to the funds released by Karnataka government on Rahul Gandhi’s directions, Karnataka BJP chief and MLA BY Vijayendra said, “Karnataka Government released Rs 15 Lakhs to a person from Wayanad (Kerala). Reason is that in an elephant trample incident, a person from Wayanad died. Karnataka government released Rs 15 Lakhs because Rahul Gandhi demanded this…This is a total misuse of state funds. How can the Karnataka Government or Siddaramaiah release funds to a person who died in Kerala? Secondly, due to pressure from Rahul Gandhi, the Government and Forest Minister Eshwar Khandre are planning to lift the ban on traffic movement in the Bandipur Reserve Forest area…This is highly objectionable. BJP strongly condemns the act of the State Government. They are doing this only to make Rahul Gandhi happy…BJP can’t allow the State Government to make such decisions hastily…We will demand CM and the Government to take back the Rs 15 Lakhs.”

On 19th February, Ajeesh Joseph Panachiyil lost his life due to an elephant attack in the Pulpally region of Wayanad. Reports suggest that the elephant that killed Ajeesh was radio-collared by the Karnataka government in December 2023. On 17th February, Rahul Gandhi paused his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra and rushed to Wayanad to meet Ajeesh’s family.

In an official communication, Karnataka’s Forest Minister said, “The elected representative of Wayanad, Shri Rahul Gandhi, requested the Government of Karnataka to be largehearted and pay compensation for that case. The Minister for Forests, Ecology and Environment, Sri Eshwar Khandre, took up the matter of compensation with Chief Minister Shri Siddaramaiah on Sunday, 18th February 2024… The Chief Minister agreed to pay compensation to the family of Shri Ajeesh at par with any citizen of Karnataka.”

Earlier, when protests erupted in Wayanad after the incident, Khandre argued that it was incorrect to label elephants as “Karnataka elephants” or “Kerala elephants” as they are migratory.

Gandhi represents Wayanad in the Lok Sabha. In the 2019 general elections, Rahul Gandhi contested from two places, Amethi and Wayanad. In Amethi, BJP leader and Union Minister Smriti Irani defeated Gandhi by a notable margin.

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