Bengaluru (DHNS): Social Welfare Minister H Anjaneya, who has come under the scanner following a sting operation by a Kannada news channel, has washed his hands of the accusations, and has pinned the blame on a senior official in his department.
The channel claimed that Anjaneya’s wife Vijaya had accepted a bribe of Rs 7 lakh for awarding a contract for supply of food items to students’ hostels coming under the Social Welfare Department.
In the sting operation, representatives of the TV channel first approached Deputy Director of Backward Classes Welfare Department, Prabhakar, posing as businessmen and sought a contract to supply food items to hostels.
The officer reportedly says that the minister’s wife, Vijaya, will take a decision on this and assures to take them to her. Later, Prabhakar takes the representatives to Anjaneya’s official residence in Jayamahal Extension here.
The representatives prostrate before the minister’s wife and then keep a small black bag on a table. The TV channel has claimed that the bag had Rs 7 lakh in cash. But there was no clarity in the conversation the representatives had with Vijaya.
Staunchly defending himself and his wife on Thursday, Anjaneya clarified to the media that he was as a victim of a political conspiracy, and was being targeted because of the community he belongs to.
“It is a conspiracy. Who is behind it I am not aware. My wife is innocent. We do not have to accept bribe for a living. I am being victimised for the community I represent. My community has been exploited for centuries. This is nothing new,” he added. Anjaneya added he grew up the hard way by fighting untouchability.
He pinned the blame on Prabhakar and said that action will be taken. The minister has ordered a departmental inquiry by Principal Secretary Shalini Rajneesh.
According to Anjaneya, the TV channel representatives came to his house on Wednesday night and left a blank paper sheet which was brought to his notice by his wife.
He said that tenders were invited for the supply of food items, and 17 bidders had participated in it. The tender was awarded to the lowest bidder. Despite this, the official had tried to “play the fool”.
BJP state president Pralhad Joshi said the chief minister should immediately dismiss Anjaneya from the Cabinet and order a high-level inquiry. Joshi said officials who are involved should be dismissed.
When his reaction was sought, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said: “It has just been brought to my notice. I will collect more information and take a decision.”