BENGALURU, March 3 (PTI): Lokayukta sleuths recovered unaccounted cash of more than Rs six crore from the house of BJP MLA K Madal Virupakshappa’s son Prashanth Madal close on the heels of his arrest after allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 40 lakh.
Prashanth, the chief accountant of the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board, was caught red-handed on Thursday evening while accepting the bribe from a contractor at the Karnataka Soap and Detergents Limited (KSDL) office.
The MLA is the Chairman of KSDL, makers of ‘Mysore Sandal’ soap.
The incident is seen as an embarrassment to the ruling BJP in Karnataka, where Assembly elections are due by May.
In the FIR that has been registered, Virupakshappa is the accused number one and his son is the second accused.
Within hours of the trap, a team of Lokayukta officials raided his house and recovered the unaccounted cash.
Prashanth was allegedly receiving ‘first installment’ of the bribe on behalf of his father, according to Lokayukta sources.
Facing the heat, Virupakshappa, MLA from Channagiri constituency in Davangere district, today tendered his resignation from the post. In his resignation letter to the Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, he said there is no “relation” between him and the Lokayukta raid which he termed as a conspiracy against him and his family.
“Despite that since an allegation has been levelled against me, I am taking moral responsibility and submitting my resignation from the post of KSDL Chairman”. he said.
Karnataka Lokayukta Justice (Retd) B S Patil said today Rs 2.02 crore was recovered from the KSDL office during the search and Rs 6.1 crore from Prashanth’s house, totally.
“Five persons have been apprehended and they have been taken into custody”, he said, adding an FIR has been registered.
Others named in the FIR are office accountant Surendra, and Prashanth’s relative Siddesh and, Albert Nicola and Gangadhar who are field workers in the ‘Karnataka Aromas Company’.
In his reaction, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the trap was proof that the Lokayukta has been “revived” to check corruption unlike the previous Congress regime which created a separate anti-corruption bureau apart from the Lokayukta institution to cover up their wrong deeds.
Seizing the opportunity to hit out at the government, former CM and senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah said the MLA’ s son demanding bribes is “proof of the 40 per cent commission government functioning in the state”.
The Lokayukta said searches were conducted in various other locations as well.
“During the investigation searches were carried by five teams throughout the night in the office and residential premises of the accused persons at Sanjaynagar, their houses at Shivanand Circle, residential premises of the Dr Mahesh M, Managing Director, Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Limited in Banashankari Nagar First Stage and office premises of Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Limited and also in home town of Madal Virupakshappa,” Lokayukta said in a statement.
Bommai said due to the absence of a strong Lokayukta in the past, many corruption cases during the Congress regime could never get investigated.
“We have been repeatedly saying that we will conduct an impartial probe. Our stand in this case as well is that the independent Lokayukta institution will carry out impartial investigation and whoever has done wrong will face action. There is no change in our stand,” the Chief Minister said.
Reacting to Congress state president D K Shivakumar’s statement that this incident was proof that the BJP government is “40 percent commission govt”, Bommai said there were many corruption charges against Congress MLAs and ministers, but they ‘covered it up’ by creating the Anti-Corruption Bureau.
He also said many corruption cases during the Congress regime have been given to the Lokayukta, which will investigate and bring out the truth.
Siddaramaiah said: “Whenever we said there is rampant corruption and 40 per cent commission is demanded from the contractors, the Chief Minister asked us to furnish details. Isn’t this evidence that the 40 per cent commission government is functioning in the state”.