Bengaluru (DHNS): Chief Minister Siddaramaiah tried to wriggle out of the watch controversy on Wednesday by handing over the diamond-studded Hublot to Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa on the floor of the House.
Siddaramaiah also requested the Speaker to declare the watch as government property amid uproar by BJP members.
After facing embarrassing questions from the Opposition over the last few weeks, Siddaramaiah finally handed over the “gifted watch” in a paper cover to the Speaker along with a one-page letter.
In his letter, which was read out by the Speaker, Siddaramaiah stated that as a “law abiding citizen” he had paid “advance tax” for the “gifted watch”.
He further stated that the “pre-owned Hublot Big Bang 301-M” wrist watch was presented to him by his friend Dr Girish Chandra Varma during his visit to Bengaluru in July 2015. Further, the chief minister has stated that the watch be handed over to the chief secretary so that it could be placed in the Cabinet hall in the Vidhana Soudha as a “government asset”.
Siddaramaiah’s action in no way helped him to buy peace with the Opposition.
Proceedings in both Houses of the Legislature continued to be stalled with the Opposition raising slogans against the chief minister and vociferously demanding a probe by a Central agency into the issue.
The Opposition members have refused to buy Siddaramaiah’s contention that the watch was gifted by his friend Dr Varma.
Within minutes after the watch came into his possession, the Speaker handed it over to Chief Secretary Aravind Jadav in full glare of the media. The Speaker’s office also took an acknowledgement from the chief secretary.
However, there is no rule which stipulates that an MLA or MLC should declare a gift as government asset by submitting it through the presiding officer. The watch will now be displayed in the Cabinet hall.
In an interaction with a section of the media, Dr Varma had stated that the watch was worth Rs 14 lakh.
Sources in Siddaramaiah’s office said the chief minister has paid an advance tax of Rs 4.25 lakh.