Team Mangalorean - Bangalore
from Shweta Somaya
Bangalore: In a suprise development, chief minister D V Sadananda Gowda is understood to have ordered an inquiry against his own excise minister M P Renukacharya, based on a complaint received from a JD(S) worker from Mangalore. This step is likely to ruffle many feathers in the government circles, especially in the backdrop of a charged political atmosphere prevailing in the ruling party.
Renukacharya is well-known as a diehard Yeddyurappa loyalist. Dhanaraj, a Janata Dal worker from Mangalore, who is also an office-bearer of the Dakshina Kannada Wine-merchants' Association, in a letter dated May 25 to the chief minister, had alleged as follows:
1. Because of minister Renukacharya's corrupt dealings and favouritism, the administration of the excise department has gone haywire.
2. An excise sub-inspector was transferred from Hassan three months ago and posted to the special squad in Mangalore. He has conducted raids on 30 law-abiding liquor outlets and has been demanding Rs 25,000 as bribe from each of them. The official has claimed that this money is to be shared between the minister, excise commissioner and deputy commissioner of excise.
3. Some of the dealers, fearing reprisals and damage to reputation, have quietly paid up even if their dealings were above board. The official claims that to retain his post, he has to pay in lakhs, which would be divided between Renukacharya and his partymen.
4. The minister has been collecting Rs 3 lakh to 5 lakh from officials seeking transfers to lucrative positions and stations. As this is an act of corruption, such ministers should be immediately dropped from the cabinet.
5. The excise detection squad is being used by the department totally for corrupt dealings.
Dhanaraj had appealed to the chief minister to hold an inquiry and take action against all corrupt officials.
The chief minister has responded to the request on June 12 by instructing the excise commissioner to file a report within three days. The commissioner has forwarded it to the joint commissioner asking him to seek a report from deputy commissioner excise (DK) the same day. The letter from the CM bears despatch no. CM/41673/REP-1/2012 and the order from the excise commissioner's office was sent on June 15.
Speaking to this correspondent, a minister belonging to the Yeddyurappa camp, expressed outrage that the CM had taken action on a complaint from a lower-level worker of an opponent party.
Another party leader said that the CM could kill two birds with a single stone. On the one hand, an eyewash kind of inquiry could be held to keep the complainant happy and on the other, it could be a tool to silence the pro-Yeddyurappa ministers like Renukacharya and MLAs like B P Harish, who have been issuing statements embarrassing the party in general, and the chief minister himself in particular.
Renukacharya was some time ago accused by a top excise official in court that some bottles of Scotch whisky seized in an excise office were in fact procured on orders from Renukacharya to be supplied to the dissident MLAs herded by Yeddyurappa in a resort in the city.