CM and Yeddyurappa continue slugfest over JSW steel land sale

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BENGALURU, June 17 (AGENCIES): Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and state BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa continued to lock horns Monday on the issue of sale of land to JSW steel, a day after the saffron party ended its round-the-clock sit-in since Friday protesting the sale.

While Kumaraswamy asserted that his government was open for any discussion as he accused Yeddyurappa of receiving money from the firm in the past, the latter alleged the Chief Minister was indulging in “political circus.”

“BJP leaders held protest. I said Im ready to give time, come – to discuss on IMA fraud issue, on drought issue. Despite great difficulty the state government has managed the drought situation and we have responded to the needs of the people,” Kumaraswamy said. Speaking to reporters at Channapatna, he said even on JSW Steel issue anyone can come and discuss openly.

“They (BJP) can speak for the sake of criticism, but I’m not from such culture. I want to ask this same Yeddyurappa- from this same Jindal company he had taken Rs 20 crore cheque (while in power), I had released it. Why did Jindal give him Rs 20 crore cheque?” he questioned.

“Whether it was Yeddyurappa or who did the lease-cum-sale for Jindal? Who signed it? So I invited them, lets not discuss on streets, come lets discuss. Still my government is open (for discussion),” he added. The BJP’s Karnataka unit, which was on a round-the-clock sit-in since Friday protesting the sale of land to JSW Steel at Ballari and other issues, had decided to “lay siege” to Kumaraswamy’s official residence on Sunday, but they were stopped on the way and detained.

Hours before BJPs march towards the Chief Ministers residence, Kumaraswamy wrote to Yeddyurappa stating that he was ready for discussion and asked him to fix a time. However, BJP decided to go ahead as per its plan.

As Yeddyurappa did not respond positively, Kumaraswamy had later tweeted, “BJPs true colours have come out, and they wanted cheap publicity, not development based discussion.” The Karnataka cabinet had recently decided to convert the lease of 3,667 acres to JSW Steel into sale, in accordance with the initial agreement.

Caught in a row, the state cabinet Friday decided to refer its decision to a cabinet sub-committee for reconsideration.

Yeddyurappa Monday hit back at Kumaraswamy accusing him of indulging in “political circus” and said, the JSW steel land issue will be raised in Parliament also.

“Chief Minister has spoken lightly. After we (BJP) did over night protest for two days, on third day when we were going for a protest march, he wrote a letter inviting us for discussion. I want to ask him- I had declared that we will sit for protest one week before itself, at least when we were protesting he could have called for discussion,” he told reporters at Mysuru.

He said the chief minister had sent the letter on talks when BJP was holding the march to lay a siege to his residence during the conclusion of the party’s protest.

“Blaming us, saying Yeddyurappa did not cooperate, he was doing politics- is it right on your part as Chief Minister? If you had called us earlier we would have come for discussion.” Also, terming Kumaraswamy’s scheduled “Grama Vastvya” (overnight stay in villages) programme to make the administration more effective, as “drama”, he asked him to travel to drought affected areas instead.

He also alleged that neither the Chief Minister nor his ministers or officials have travelled to affected regions to assess the situation.

Facing criticism over his silence on the land row, former Chief Minister and coalition coordination committee chief Siddaramaiah said it was he who advised the government to refer the issue to the cabinet sub-committee for reconsideration. There is opposition to the sale of land to JSW Steel within the ruling alliance .Causing embarrassment to the coalition, senior Congress leader H K Patil has been opposing the sale, by writing a series of letters to the government.

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