Days after taking over as Karnataka BJP unit President, B S Yeddyurappa has waded into a controversy over a Rs 1.15 crore swanky SUV given to him by a former minister and loyalist to tour the state.
The Toyota Land Cruiser Prado provided by sugar baron Murugesh Nirani has stirred the hornet’s nest after reports that the seven-seater luxury vehicle would be used by Yeddyurappa to travel around the drought-hit parts, with questions raised about its propriety. But Yeddyurappa today sought to put a lid on the controversy, saying Nirani had given the SUV to him for party work and “after that, he will take back the car”.
“I am going round the state and for that there is a good vehicle for me. That is what he (Nirani) told me. That I am using. After two years when my period (as party chief) is over, he will take back the vehicle,” he told reporters.
He also said he would not be using the vehicle in the districts during his visit to drought-affected areas. “Don’t compare it (the cost of the vehicle) with drought,” Yeddyurappa said when asked whether it would be right to use a luxury vehicle to move around in areas reeling under drought.
Nirani has defended his gesture, saying the SUV was not a gift and Yeddyurappa could use it as long as he wants. The vehicle was being given considering that Yeddyurappa has to travel extensively as state BJP chief and his age is 73 years.
He also said the SUV is in the name of his company and he had purchased it through loan. Meanwhile, BJP has announced that Yeddyurappa would be touring the drought-hit areas in the districts of Bidar, Kalaburagi, Raichur and Vijayapura from April 27 to May 1.
Yeddyurappa, who was compelled to quit over graft charges in 2011, was recently appointed the state BJP president to revive the fortunes of the party, after he was cleared by the court in most of the corruption-related cases. A combative leader who is projected as pro-farmers, Yeddyurappa has set a target of winning 150 of the 224 Assembly seats in the 2018 polls.
The controversy comes close on the heels of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah landing in a row over a gifted Rs 70 lakh diamond-studded Hublot watch that he wore before he handed it over to the state in the wake of a political storm over it.