Ahead of illegal mining report, Cong targets Hegde

With Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde expected to submit his second and final report on illegal iron ore mining in the state running up losses of over Rs 10,000 crore in the last decade this June-end, political parties have assumed differing positions towards Hegde.

While the opposition Congress has accused Hegde of delaying the report so as to aid the ruling BJP in the state, the opposition Janata Dal (Secular) and the ruling BJP have said they had faith in the former Supreme Court judge

Senior Congress leaders Janardhan Poojary and B K Hariprasad have over the last couple of weeks questioned the functioning of Hegde also a member of the Lokpal Bill drafting committee and accused him of shielding Chief Minister Yeddyurappa and the BJP government.

On June 6, Poojary questioned the Karnataka Lokayukta's presence on the drafting committee for Lokpal Bill when several matters related to corruption in Karnataka remained pending. "I have a lot of respect for the Lokayukta but he should know that he is also answerable to the public. Why is he on the drafting panel and not addressing his duties as a Lokayukta?'' Poojary asked.

Hegde, when questioned about Poojary's stance, said: I would not like to react to such comments''. "He is a lawyer. He should know better about legal issues. It's his government that has approved my appointment to drafting committee,'' he said.

"The reasons for all these parties targeting me will be clear after the submission of the final report on mining."

AICC member Hariprasad said the delays in the completion of the mining report would indirectly help the BSY government. He added that Hegde's loyalties were under suspicion since he withdrew his resignation last year at the behest of BJP leader L K Advani, whom he considered a father-figure.

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