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Loksatta echoes citizens' demand: Remove errant corporator now!
14 October 2010

Reacting to the grant of bail to Mr. Katta Jagadish Naidu, citizens of Vasanthnagar led by Loksatta Senior party leader, Mr. N S Ramakanth commented, "The legal process will take its time and the grant of bail is only a temporary reprieve. But, we believe, it is completely unacceptable for a person who has been caught red-handed paying bribe by the Lokayukta to continue in elected office. Mr. Naidu has lost the confidence of the citizens of Vasanthnagar ward. We do not want him to continue as our corporator".

Mr Ramakanth pointed out that in the bail appeal before the High Court of Karnataka, Mr Naidu reportedly claimed that he is not a public servant, and therefore not to be prosecuted under the Prevention of Corruption Act. This claim is very unfortunate, said Mr Ramakanth. "How can an elected person claim he is not a public servant? Did he tell the voters that if elected, he would not see himself this way? Public service should be the reason one contests elections. If this itself is set aside, then what is left of democracy?"

Regarding the possibility of suspension of Mr. Naidu from the BBMP Council, as was the case with corporator L. Govindaraju from Ganesh Mandir ward, Loksatta party spokesperson, Mr. Muralidhar Rao wondered, "There is no provision for 'suspension' of Councillors in the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act, 1976. The Suspension orders will hardly impact the accused corporator. On the contrary it will have a serious impact on citizens of the ward since their Corporator.s suspension would mean that their interests are not being represented. It is therefore essential to invoke 'disqualification' on grounds of corruption and then have the election of a new corporator..

He recalled that in Dec 2006, 11 Members of Parliament were expelled in the cash-for-query scam by a vote on a motion in Parliament. Mr. Rao said, "When MPs can be expelled from Parliament on charges of corruption by voting, why should voting in BBMP Council not be adopted for corporators caught red-handed for corruption?"

Karnataka, and particularly Bengaluru, is fast evolving into the 'Corruption Capital' of India. Earlier this year, there were charges against a senior judge of Karnataka, then there have been so many cases against Ministers and now barely a few months into being elected as corporators, so many of them have already been entangled in cases of corruption.

Mr. Ramakanth remarked in anguish, "These young men who are today corporators are going to be tomorrow.s MLAs and MPs. Imagine if at this level they are misusing power, then what could happen in future." It is a pity that despite being caught red-handed Mr. Naidu has not offered to resign. Mr. Ramakanth continued, "And if he will not resign on his own, he should be removed by the council by voting".

The disqualification of Mr. Naidu would set a strong precedent for action against the two other corporators who have been charged with corruption, Mr. Govindraju, corporator of Ganesh Mandir ward and Munirathna Naidu corporator of Yeshwanthpur ward.

Concludes Mr. Ramakanth, "The root cause of these corrupt acts is the growing nexus between corporators, contractors and builders. Corporators have become 'Co-operators' with contractors and constructors". Only strong action in cases of proven corruption can put a check on this.

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