Karnataka orders land deals probe, BJP looks for way out (Roundup)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

BANGALORE/NEW DELHI - Facing flak over its first chief minister in south India, Karnataka’s B.S.Yeddyurappa favouring family members in land allotment, the Bharatiya Janata Party Thursday looked for a way out of the embarrassment.

As senior party leaders met in Delhi amid mounting speculation that Yeddyurappa may get his kin to surrender the lands, the state cabinet decided in Bangalore to order a probe into all land deals in and around the city in the last 10 years.

The probe will be conducted by a retired judge of the Supreme Court, the cabinet decided.

“The name of the judge and terms of reference will be announced later,” Education Minister Vishwanath Hegde Kageri told reporters after the cabinet meet.

Yeddyurappa has acknowledged that his sons, daughter, son-in-law, sister, her son and daughter-in-law have been allotted residential and industrial plots. He has, however, defended the allotment on the ground that his predecessors too had done the same.

The Yeddyurappa episode has come at a wrong time for BJP central leaders as it threatens to weaken their campaign against scandals around 2G spectrum allotment, Commonwealth Games corruption and Mumbai’s Adarsh Housing society scam.

Senior leaders L.K. Advani, leaders of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley respectively, former party presidents Rajnath Singh and M. Venkaiah Naidu and Bangalore South Lok Sabha member H.N. Ananth Kumar met in Delhi to discuss a way out of the embarrassing situation for the party.

This meeting led to speculation that Yeddyurappa has either offered or will be asked to get his family members to surrender the lands to save his chair and provide some relief to the party leadership.

Another round of meeting was held by BJP leaders late Thursday, in which party chief Nitin Gadkari also joined.

In Bangalore the Chief Minister’s Office said Yeddyurappa will go to Delhi to join the meeting but later the trip was cancelled without giving any reason.

The Congress raised the land scam in the Lok Sabha Thursday with some of its members carrying placards demanding Yeddyurappa’s resignation and criticising the BJP’s stand on the scandal.

In Bangalore also, the Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular were unrelenting in seeking Yeddyurappa’s ouster.

However, they welcomed the state cabinet decision to order a probe into deals in the last ten years.

Apparently to show he is in full command despite raging row, Yeddyurappa late Thursday appointed 37 legislators to head government-run boards and corporations.

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