Karnataka ombudsman not to quit despite BJP barbs

Friday, December 10, 2010

BANGALORE - Karnataka Lok Ayukta (ombudsman) N. Santosh Hegde Friday said he has no plans to quit despite the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) criticism of his style of functioning.

“I fail to understand what made (BJP president Nitin) Gadkari say that I am acting like an opposition leader,” Hegde, a retired Supreme Court judge, told reporters here.

He reiterated that it was a “mistake” to take back his resignation in July but asserted “there is no question of resignation now”.

“I will complete everything and submit a report before I go,” said Hegde, who has about seven months of his five-year term left to go.

Hegde resigned in July, upset over the way the BJPs first government in Karnataka was dealing with illegal iron ore mining case. However, he withdrew on intervention by senior BJP leader L. K. Advani.

Gadkari during a meeting here with party legislators Dec 7 is reported to have remarked that Hegde was acting like an opposition leader.

Hegde, whose father K.S. Hegde was senior BJP vice-president years ago, has been investigating several land scam cases involving BJP ministers in the state and has issued a notice to Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa over allegations of illegal land deals.

Hegde recalled that Gadkari asked him to take back the resignation in July. While Advani telephoned Hegde requesting him to withdraw hsi resignation, Gadkari met him at his residence here to persuade him to stay back.

“If this (behaving like opposition leader) is what he thinks, he should not have asked me to withdraw my resignation, Hegde said.

The ombudsman said in a way he was like an opposition leader to all parties in power if they commit a mistake.

On corruption, he said it has become universal and no institution in India, including judiciary and journalism, was free from it.

Hegde called for “zero tolerance” of corruption and regretted that often the corrupt were facilitated publicly by society.

He ruled out joining politics after his retirement. I will not join politics as I am not interested in it,” he said.

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