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K’taka minister Kharge appeals to disgruntled BJP MLA Yatnal to expose Covid irregularities

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DHARWAD (K’TAKA), Dec 27: Karnataka minister Priyank Kharge on Wednesday appealed to the disgruntled BJP MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal to make the documents public related to the alleged Rs 40,000 crore scam in Covid-19 management during the previous BJP government in the state.

The minister said Yatnal should at least hand over the details to the Justice John Michael Cunha Commission of Inquiry to probe into the coronavirus related irregularities.

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Kharge, who is the son of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, suspected the involvement of the Central government in the Covid scam.

“Yatnal has said that if he is expelled from the BJP then he will release all the documents (related to Covid mismanagement). I appeal to him through the media to please make the documents public, keeping in mind the people of Karnataka and to safeguard their interest. Or at least share them with Justice John Michael Cunha Committee Commission of Inquiry,” Kharge, who holds IT/BT and Rural Development and Panchayat Raj portfolios, told reporters.

He said people know that Yatnal is upright but he has to bring his honesty before the commission.

“If you (Yatnal) are not interested in handing it over to the commission then share it with the media because it is a Rs 40,000 crore scam. There is no humanity if they (previous BJP government) made money from corpses,” Kharge said reacting to BJP MLA’s statement.

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Yatnal on Tuesday warned that he would expose the alleged irregularities of Rs 40,000 crore that happened during the BJP government in Karnataka led by B S Yediyurappa at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic if he was expelled from the party.

The MLA said, “They (the BJP government in Karnataka) have done everything (huge corruption during Covid). Let them serve me a notice and try to expel me from the party, I will expose them.”

Stating that these allegations were not by the Congress but a BJP MLA and a former union minister, Kharge asked the BJP state president B Y Vijayendra and opposition leader in the Karnataka Assembly R Ashoka to clarify the charges.

To a question why the Central level leaders were silent on the irregularities in Covid management, Kharge claimed they too would have got their share.

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The minister added that the title of ’40 per cent commission’ given to the previous BJP government was not from the Congress but from their own (BJP) party leaders and Karnataka State Contractors’ Association.

“Did we ask them to make money out of corpses? Even though we were alleging that there was large scale corruption in the procurement of medical equipment, the then Speaker said the investigation should not continue further and it is illegal.

“Have you ever heard that the Speaker wrote to the public accounts committee? It is quite visible that everyone’s involvement is there – Central as well as the state government,” Kharge said.

Asked when the inquiry report was expected, the minister said the commission has not yet submitted the report because it is still inquiring into it since it pertains to a massive Rs 40,000 crore irregularity.

Kharge said these charges were serious because Yatnal has been repeatedly saying it.

He added that Yatnal had been accusing Vijayendra of being a ‘Shadow CM’ when his father B S Yediyurappa was the Chief Minister.

Yatnal, who has launched a tirade against Yediyurappa and his family, especially after his second son B Y Vijayendra was made the BJP state president, said there was large-scale corruption in coronavirus management during the BJP government.

“A mask that costs Rs 45 each, Mr Yediyurappa, how much did your government spend on each of them during the Covid? They had put a price of Rs 485 for each mask…,” the agitated BJP MLA said in Vijayapura.

“They (BJP government) said they arranged 10,000 beds in Bengaluru. The rent for these beds…remember that it was taken only on rent…if they had purchased them then two beds could have been bought (for the same price). They paid Rs 20,000 as rent per day. Two cots with saline stands could have been purchased for Rs 20,000. Do you know how much they spent a day during corona?” Yatnal further said. (PTI)

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