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The Hindu
The Hindu
Special Correspondent

Will not let off govt. on ‘corruption’ in pandemic management: Siddaramaiah

Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Wednesday made it clear that he would not retreat from his demand for a probe into the expenditure made by the State government on the management of COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Siddaramaiah, who had recently alleged corruption in the purchase of medical supplies by the government “at double the actual market cost”, told reporters in Mysuru that the issue will be taken to its logical end.

“The government has to give an account of the expenditure. Or else, we will not leave them. We will take the issue to the logical end”, said Mr. Siddaramaiah, who is also the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly.

Referring to Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa’s invitation for him to come and check the documents in the Vidhana Soudha, he said he would also check the files if they are sent across to him. “Let them send the documents through the officials, I will also see them”, he said.

If the government was shying away from making public the documents, it amounts to admitting to corruption, he alleged and urged the government to hold an inquiry into the matter by constituting a House committee.

Last week, Mr. Siddaramaiah had alleged that the State government had indulged in corrupt practices in the procurement of medical supplies for COVID-19 management. The government claims to have spent ₹3,228 crore on the supplies including ventilators, masks, PPE kits, oxygen cylinders, sanitizers etc., but the “same would cost around ₹1,400 crore if prevailing market prices are considered”, the former Chief Minister had alleged.

Referring to reports of people leaving Bengaluru, Mr. Siddaramaiah said the State government has failed to provide proper security to the residents of Bengaluru. “The government should provide them financial aid or livelihood and prevent them from catching the disease. If nothing is done, the people will go to their villages, where the disease is not widespread, and somehow live”, he said.

Mr. Siddaramaiah also found fault with the timing of the lockdown imposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The lockdown was untimely, he said recalling that barely 536 people had tested positive and 10 deaths were reported in the country when the Prime Minister announced a lockdown on March 24.

Presently, the number of people who had tested positive had crossed 7 lakh and the number of dead had surpassed 20,000. “When all this has taken place after the lockdown, what was the use of lockdown?”, he queried.

To a question, Mr. Siddaramaiah said the lockdown was necessary at present, but the government is citing worsening of the economic conditions as a reason for not imposing a lockdown. However, he said life was more important than economic growth.

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