L K Advani says saaku to Karnataka IAC, declines meeting

The media is abuzz with reports of jailed Chief Minister Yeddyurappa’s group snubbing national BJP leader L K Advani in Bangalore yesterday by boycotting his anti-corruption rally. It appears the BJP’s political roundabout of contradictions and snubbing has also broadened into civil society anti-corruption movement.

Advani declined to meet Karnataka’s India Against Corruption group, who had lined up a series of demands for him. It appears the senior BJP leader, whose national anti-corruption campaign is widely seen as a way to upstage the UPA, is doing a tightrope walk in Karnataka. The state has been plagued with its own series of scams, and jailed BJP politicians, including Yeddyurappa and the father-and-son duo of Katta Subramanya Naidu and Jagdish Naidu.

"IAC Karnataka was deeply surprised to hear, after numerous attempts made, that Shri L K Advani was unable or unwilling to meet with them and address the key issues surrounding corruption in the State of Karnataka, led by a government from his own party", said an IAC press statement issued on October 31st, the same day Advani was in Bangalore for his rally.

IAC line of up demands for Advani included the following: Karnataka Lokayukta’s reports on the Bellary mining scam and misappropriations in the public distribution system must be implemented. All the MLAs, corporators chargesheeted by the Lokayukta or high court must resign. They must not re-contest unless they are proven innocent. IAC pointed out that Advani himself had resigned from his post when he was one of the chargesheeted in the infamous Hawala case. He contested only after he was acquitted. IAC also wants BJP to support the Jan Lokpal bill. This was reported in the Times of India on October 31st.

In not meeting Bangalore’s IAC group, which ironically includes retired Justice Santosh Hegde, Advani appears to be indicating that his rally is more typically centred on party politics. IAC disagrees. "Does Shri Advani understand that by not acting on the PDS report, the state government is directly affecting lakhs of needy people in the state every single day? Under these circumstances, by ignoring the issues raised by IAC Karnataka an opportunity has been lost to make a new beginning and clean up the situation in Karnataka", states the release.

Karnataka’s IAC group, comprising of largely Bangalore-based volunteers, has a unique history. They initiated the Saaku campaign last year that anchored the groundswell of citizen support for former Justice Santosh Hegde when his interim report on mining came out. The campaign, particularly in Bangalore, strengthened Hegde’s hands (who first offered to resign on the government intransigence). Instead, Hegde then went on to finish his report into both the Bellary mining scam and a host of other land scams which eventually led to Yeddyurappa and others being indicted recently.

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