Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Tuesday sought to downplay comments attributed to a senior minister in the state – that the BJP government was non-functional and merely managing things – by claiming that the said comments were made in a specific context to the cooperative sector and that everything else was alright in the government.
“He has said it in a different context. I have spoken to him. There is no need to misunderstand. Three months ago, he made the comments with respect to something in the co-operative department. The remark was restricted to this alone and everything else is alright,” Bommai told reporters on Tuesday.
A controversy has erupted in the Bommai-led BJP government in Karnataka following the emergence of an audio recording linked to law minister J C Madhuswamy who is purportedly heard saying that there is no functioning government in the state. The audio clip of the conversation, allegedly between Madhuswamy and a social worker Bhaskar from Channapatna, also indicated differences between ministers.
In the purported conversation that was posted on social media by the Karnataka unit of the Congress, the social worker complains of officials of the VSSN Co-operative Bank demanding Rs 1,300 to renew loans worth Rs 50,000 taken by farmers across the state. “I am aware of all these things, it has been brought to the notice of Mr Somashekhar (the co-operatives minister) that the funds meant as payment of interest are being gobbled up and that additional payments are being sought. He is not taking any action. What can be done,” Madhuswamy is heard saying in the conversation.
“Even I have been forced to pay the additional charges by bank officials and it is not just farmers. There is no functioning government, we are only managing things and pushing for eight months (when the 2023 state elections are to be held),” the voice linked to Madhuswamy is heard saying.
The Opposition Congress has flagged the conversation as an example of the incompetence of the BJP government in Karnataka. “The negligence of the government, the incompetence of the ministers, and the injustice done to farmers have been revealed by minister Madhuswamy. The BJP government is functioning only as a corruption management service. There is no better evidence of the incompetence of the Bommai government and injustice to farmers,” the Karnataka unit of the Congress said on social media.
In a reaction to the purported statements of Madhuswamy, cooperatives minister S T Somashekhar told reporters in Mysuru that it was wrong for the law minister to talk about his department. “The government is not crawling as the minister has claimed. Maybe his own department is just drifting along,” Somashekhar said.
Horticulture minister N Munirathna, a close associate of the cooperatives minister, stated that the law minister should resign over his remarks. “He should not make such comments. He should resign,” Munirathna said.