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Bengaluru, Aug 25 : A Rs 1.72 crore sweater scam involving Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike officials has come to light.
The scam was unearthed by Karnataka Dalit Sangharsh Samiti Chairman CS Raghu. He alleged that the BBMP officials have produced bills in favour of Karnataka Handloom Development Corporation for sweaters that were not distributed to the corporation schoolchildren.
“Students did not get sweaters because the schools were shut due to Covid pandemic for over a year,” Raghu alleged. “I have the documents, also the bills that have been produced in favour of KHDC. I am going to submit it to the government,” he added.
Every year, the BBMP gives a pair of sweaters to students. They are scheduled to be given at the start of the academic year, in June.
The DSS activists are on protest since yesterday and are demanding action against the corrupt BBMP officials.
The stir has exploded into a major issue with the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee joining the issue. The party targeted Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai for the scam as BBMP came under his control.
“The BBMP had called for a tender. Very nice. They granted the contract. That’s very nice. But, the sweaters were not distributed to the students, but bills have been produced? So, where are the sweaters and what happened to the money?” Shivakumar told reporters.
“The chief minister should respond to these questions. because BBMP comes under his jurisdiction,” he said.
Shivakumar also raised doubts over the involvement of BBMP officials in the scam as they were cajoling the protestors to call off their agitation and inviting them to come to the negotiating tables.
“The very fact that the BBMP officials are asking protestors to call off their stir and inviting them for negotiation, sparks off suspicion. If the BBMP officials are not involved, then they should clarify. If they don’t, then there is something wrong,” he said.
Even the verified Karnataka Congress twitter handle posted a flurry of tweets targeting the BJP government. It said the BJP government is an epitome of scams and cheated students, ranging from eggs to sweaters.
The Congress also dragged Minister R Ashok and BJP leader Jaggesh names in the scam. “How did actor Komal, brother of Jaggesh, name crop up in the scam? The sweaters were not distributed. Why did Minister R Ashok pressurise officials to release money if it was not allocated? What share of money do they have in it?” the Congress questioned.
Komal, however, has denied his involvement in the scam and said he was not granted the contract, because an individual cannot bid for it. “I do not know how my name has emerged in this scam. An individual cannot be awarded the contract. It is between the Karnataka Handloom Development Corporation and BBMP. I have nothing to do,” he argued.
He also threatened to file a defamation case against Raghu.
However, the Congress produced an old tweet of Jaggesh, who mentioned Komal getting the BBMP contract on April 27. “Will Bommai initiate an enquiry into the sweater scam or give clean chit to Shashikala Jolle in this case too after cheating students on eggs?” the party asked.
The Congress demanded immediate investigation and bring to light the pressure tactics of Ashok and Jaggesh, and book the corrupt BBMP officials.