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The Hindu
The Hindu
Special Correspondent

Will submit documents only to judicial commission, says contractors’ association

The Karnataka State Contractors’ Association (KSCA) on Thursday said that it was willing to submit documents to a judicial commission instead of the Lokayukta to prevent “harassment to its members”, even as the Congress asked why the government was not willing to announce a judicial inquiry if it had nothing to hide.

The association, which is expected to appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the second time seeking his intervention to curb corruption in public works, is seeking its executive committee’s nod for the letter next week, as the office-bearers have agreed to the move.  

“We will submit all the documents to prove our allegations to a judicial commission since the Lokayukta has officials from the State government. There are possibilities that the contractors could be targeted if complaint is made to the Lokayukta,” KSCA president D. Kempanna told The Hindu.

He said that the association did not want to expose the contractors, contracts, and the documents involved before the Lokayukta.

Mr. Kempanna’s reaction came after the leaders of the BJP, including Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, challenged the association to prove their allegation of corruption against a Minister that they levelled on Wednesday by complaining to the Lokayukta.

The association president pointed out that about ₹20,000 crore of bills, many including as old as 3 years, were pending for clearance. “Already contractors would have borrowed to execute the work, and the delay in payment could further trouble them.”

On allegations that the association was acting on the behest of the Congress, Mr. Kempanna said, “We are not aligned with any political party. When Congress leaders had invited us for a meeting, we went. Similarly, when the Chief Minister had convened the meeting, we took part. If BJP leaders call us, we will go there too.”

He also pointed out that association had fought against corruption even during the Congress regime, when S.M. Krishna was the Chief Minister.

Explaining the sequence of events that led to the association first writing to the Prime Minister last year, Mr. Kempanna said that they were forced to write the letter since there was no response to their letter to B.S. Yediyurappa when he was the Chief Minister.

According to him, the commissions for public works that was around 20% before 2019 doubled since then.

“We have nothing against the Chief Minister. He has done his best. In fact, we had to seek court intervention to implement the order issued by the Chief Minister since officials were obstructing,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka Congress in a tweet said, “The BJP should show in action, not in words, their integrity. Why is it scared to set up a judicial inquiry to investigate the corruption through commission”  

KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar also said that the government should have instituted a judicial inquiry when the association first wrote to the Prime Minister last year. “BJP legislators Basannagouda Patil Yatnal and A.H. Vishwanath have spoken about the corruption. If it is not true, the government should have taken action against them... If Mr. Kempanna was a Congress agent, why did Mr. Bommai meet him? It is the duty of the Opposition party to raise issues.”

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