An expensive wristwatch and sunglasses Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah purportedly used to wear have come back to haunt him. The controversy has now reached the Raj Bhavan, with an RTI activist seeking Governor Vaju Vala’s sanction to investigate the issue and ascertain whether Siddaramaiah received the watch in violation of law.
Significantly, Janata Dal (Secular) leader H D Kumaraswamy, who had brought up the allegation against the CM, is himself in soup — the Congress has hit back through Ramya, the actress-turned-politician. Amid electioneering ahead of local body elections in Mandya district on Saturday, the former Lok Sabha MP from Mandya has accused Kumaraswamy of owning equally expensive watches, SUVs and sedans and asked him to think about them before raising questions on the lifestyle of others.
Kumaraswamy had alleged two weeks ago that Siddaramaiah claims to be a socialist but often sports expensive wristwatches and sunglasses. He claimed one luxury watch Siddaramaiah had worn often earlier — a Hublot (a Swiss luxury watch brand) — is worth Rs 70 lakh in Dubai market, and that the CM had offered it to Kumaraswamy for Rs 5 lakh.
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Siddaramaiah, who claimed the watch was a gift from an unidentified person, has since not been seen in public sporting the Hublot. While a complaint was earlier filed with the Karnataka Lokayukta over the watch, RTI activist S Bhaskaran has now written to the Governor to initiate an investigation into it.
“There are tremors in the Congress over one watch; people can imagine what would happen if details of eight watches owned by the CM are released,” Kumaraswamy had said recently.
The opposition BJP has jumped in, with state leader S Suresh Kumar asking Siddaramaiah to come clean or face investigation. Congress leaders like veteran Janardhan Poojary have suggested that Siddaramaiah should auction the watch and use the proceeds to help farmers in the state. Siddaramaiah has gone silent on the issue.
Meanwhile, Ramya has accused Kumaraswamy of wearing expensive gold watches in the home of his companion, Kannada actress Radhika, while putting up a show of simplicity in public. “I have visited Radhika’s house and know that Kumaraswamy wears a gold watch. He owns a Hummer, an Audi and a BMW but speaks of watches worn by others. Is it right?’’ she asked.