Pushed to the 'wall' by opposition, Ramanath Rai denies altering chamber
From Our Special Correspondent
Daijiworld Media Network - Bangalore
Bangalore, Jun 5: Stung by the adverse media coverage and criticism from the opposition parties, Karnataka’s Forest Minister B Ramanath Rai has clarified that he was ''not responsible for demolition of a wall in the chamber allotted to him in the Vidhana Soudha.”
The issue pertaining to the demolition of the walls in the Room Numbers 304 and 305 on the third floor of the Vidhana Soudha, which have been allotted to the Dakshina Kannada district in-charge minister, created a storm in the state Assembly with the KJP Chief and former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa leading the charge against Rai and demanding an apology from the minister.
Yeddyurappa, who raised the issue as soon as the House began its session in the morning, demanded that the minister should resign and the work must be stopped forthwith.
''The Vidhana Soudha, which is famous all over the country and is a major attraction among tourists from all over the country, built by the late Kengal Hanumanthaiah is not Rai’s residence to effect structural changes,” Yeddyurappa thundered.
Replying to the Opposition’s charges, Rai said “I have not even entered the chambers allotted me till now and not responsible for the demolition of the walls in the rooms.”
''I am not a believer in Vaastu and I have not instructed any officials to demolish the wall between the chamber and a room allotted to my personal staff,” he clarified and asserted that there was no need for him to resign as he was in no way responsible.
The wall between Rooms 304 and 305, facing the Karnataka High Court, was found to be demolished and newspapers have flashed reports about the incident prominently.
The forest minister, who was wearing a green shirt on the occasion of World Environment Day, had a tough task in convincing Opposition members about his non-involvement in the demolition drive.
“The Department of Personal Administration and Reforms (DPAR) officials have changed the structure of the room,” Rai claimed.
JD(S), BJP and other KJP members, who joined Yeddyurappa, urged Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa to warn the minister not to change the structure of chambers allotted to them in the State Secretariat.
Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T B Jayachandra, who intervened, assured that steps would be taken to protect heritage of the building.
The issue figured prominently in the Upper House to with JD(S) leader M C Nanaiah taking strong exception to the demolition of a wall in the historical and heritage building like Vidhana Soudha.
''This type of behaviour by anybody should never be allowed and the minister concerned must be pulled up so as to send a strong message to others,” said Nanaiah.
Higher Education and Tourism Minister R V Deshpande, who replied on behalf of the government, made it clear that steps were being taken to stop and restore the Vidhana Soudha rooms.
Meanwhile, chief minister Siddaramaiah, who had gone to Delhi to participate in the Chief Ministers’ Conference convened by the Centre, said the minister concerned has been advised not to do anything that will damage the heritage building like Vidhana Soudha.
It may be recalled that former chief minister Jagadish Shettar’s political secretary Shankar Patil Munekoppa had demolished a portion of the wall of rooms 340 and 340A in Vidhana Soudha.
However, both Shettar and the then Public Works Minister CM Udasi had stopped the move and got the wall restored.
Shettar Demands White Paper on State Finances
BJP floor leader in the State Assembly and former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar on Wednesday demanded a white paper on State finances to keep the public informed about the development expenditure during the BJP rule.
Participating in the discussion on the motion of thanks to the Governor for his address to the joint session of the State legislature, he said the chief minister Siddaramaiah must come out with the white paper instead of leveling baseless allegations against the BJP rule.
The very fact that the Congress government could announce Rs 6,500 crore subsidy under various schemes, including waiver of loans, on the first day in office, Shettar said was possible ``only on account of sound fiscal position left by the BJP government.”
Earlier, Congress member Basavaraja Rayareddy said the State’s debt was Rs 63,844 crore till 2007 and it had increased to massive Rs. 1,37,089 crore in 2013, primarily due to reckless borrowing and financial indiscipline.
The State’s debt has doubled during the BJP government’s tenure on account of financial indiscipline, Rayareddy said.
He said need based borrowings would reduce the debt as well fiscal deficit of the Government.
However, Increased non-plan expenditure on account of subsidy and salaries, pensions, etc contributed to the reduction of the amount available for planned expenditure, he mentioned.
Spending on irrigation works declined from 32 per cent of the planned expenditure during the S M Krishna regime (2000-2004) to 19 per cent during the BJP regime, he said.
Noting pending of works in the Krishna basin, he suggested to the Government to allot at least Rs 10,000 crore per year to complete all canal modernisation works to ensure full utilisation of Krishna waters.
The Congress member strongly opposed a separate budget on agriculture and supported chief minister Siddaramaiah’s stand that mere token measures or gimmicks would not convince or help the farmers.
Intervening during Rayareddy’s speech, Shettar said there was no substance in member’s statements and demanded the Government to come out with a white paper on the State Finances during the BJP rule.