Is something the matter with the other mining baron from Bellary? Yes, going by Infrastructure minister Santosh Lad’s strange new taste for austerity
Santosh Lad, Infrastructure and Information Minster, recently paid a surprise visit to KIMS Hospital in Bangalore and lambasted the medical officers for lack of cleanliness. This week he went to Raichur.
Lad is an ardent devotee of saint Raghavendra Swamy. He used to frequent the Mantralaya temple, just across the border, by helicopter when he was an MLA. This time, too, circulars went out to Raichur district officials that he would be there for an inspection and meeting.
The administration got busy arranging security, and made grand preparations to welcome him. To their surprise, Lad arrived in a government car on Wednesday evening, ahead of the meeting, and rushed to the Raghavendra Swamy temple. After puja, he returned to Bangalore the same evening without informing anybody. District officials kept waiting for him all day on Thursday.
Lad is a mining baron from Sandur in Bellary. He owns a fleet of luxury cars, not to speak of helicopters, and doesn’t care much for government vehicles. So why did he used a government vehicle to visit the temple? No one knows, but some are saying he had no interest in holding a meeting, and so quietly slipped away without drawing too much attention.
Will Siddaramaiah rice and shine?
As soon as Siddaramaiah took oath as chief minister, he announced rice at Re 1 a kilo—and a monthly ration of 30 kg—for each family below the poverty line.
He had paid no thought to where he would source the rice, and how he would pay for it. Reality began to sink in soon. He put off the date of distribution.
That was enough for the opposition and the media to taunt him. Asked if he would start distribution at least from July 1, he prodded Food and Civil Supplies Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao into action.
About 78 lakh families hold BPL cards and the government needs 2.45 lakh tons of rice every month for this scheme. The annual cost of distributing rice is Rs 1,200 crore. Experts advised him the total cost could be brought down if
EMPTY HAND Siddaramaiah’s rice dole is based on questionable economics
he introduced the unit system (10 kg for a family with one person, 20 for a family of two, and 30 kg for a family of three or more).
The centre provides 1.42 lakh tons, and Karnataka faces a shortage of about 1.03 lakh tons. Some 75,000 tons are available at state government warehouses. Siddaramaiah needed only 25,000 tons for July. He is buying this at Rs 27 a kg from Chhattisgarh. By selling at Re 1, the government loses Rs 26 on every kilo it doles out to BPL cardholders.
If all goes as planned, Siddaramaiah will launch his rice distribution scheme on July 10. This will help the very poor. The government will also earn a good name. But how will Siddaramaiah weed out the 58 lakh bogus cards, and curb the middlemen?
Some ministers in the BJP, under the leadership of DB Chandre Gowda, have taken a request to state party president Prahlad Joshi. They want Yeddyurappa, who split from the BJP and formed the KJP, back in the fold.
Sadananda Gowda, Prabhakar Kore, Murugesh Nirani, Basavaraj Bommai, Umesh Katti, Somanna, and Madhusudan of the BJP are working behind the scenes to bring him back.
But Joshi still hasn’t taken up this issue with the national leaders. Yeddyurappa remains anathema to prominent leaders like Ananth Kumar, Jagadish Shettar, KS Eshwarappa and Prahlad Joshi himself. They fear they will be sidelined if Yeduyurappa is back.
So it’s a stalemate for Yeddyurappa, even though the ascendance of Narendra Modi, with whom he enjoys a good rapport, is good news.
Minister for Bangalore
Bangalore is represented by 28 MLAs and 198 corporators. It is a hub for the real estate, ITBT and travel businesses, and generates more revenue than the rest of the state put together. Ministers in charge of the city often enjoy as much power as the chief minister, if not more.
Yeduyurappa had given sweeping powers to ministers R Ashok and Katta Subramanya Naidu, and each reigned over half of Bangalore.
But Katta ended up in jail on corruption charges. Ashok then enjoyed control over all of Bangalore. Currently, the senior-most among Congress MLAs from Bangalore, Ramalinga Reddy, holds the transport minster’s position. He is also the minister in charge of Bangalore. Dinesh Gundu Rao, KJ George and Krishna Byregowda, who also covet the position, are forced to remain content with just their ministerships.
When Talk spoke to Dinesh Gundu Rao, he said, “Ramalinga Reddy is senior to all of us. He is the most eligible to hold the position. We support him. Our goal is the development of Bangalore. We don’t have any hard feelings”.