Political circles in the State are abuzz with speculations related to Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, his son B.Y. Vijayendra and several family members being under the Enforcement Directorate (ED) scanner. The unceasing talk on leadership change on corruption allegations is being linked to this by the faction seeking his replacement.
However, multiple sources in the ED confirmed to The Hindu that the agency is not probing the Chief Minister or his family members, presently. Though a complaint was lodged with the ED, Delhi, by activist T.J. Abraham in November 2020, there has been no FIR in the case by any primary agency, a prerequisite for the ED to join the probe.
“I filed a complaint with the ED and the Anti-Corruption Bureau, Karnataka, in November, 2020. But both the agencies have failed to initiate a probe, forcing me to file a private complaint seeking directions to register an FIR in the Special Court for People’s Representatives. The petition is yet to be heard,” said Mr. Abraham.
A senior officer in the ED told The Hindu that only if there is an FIR by a primary agency, that includes scheduled offences under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, can the ED initiate a probe into the case. “In the absence of an FIR, the ED cannot legally initiate an inquiry,” he said.
However, rumours fuelled by the Chief Minister’s detractors have gone so far as to claim that Mr. Vijayendra has already been questioned by the ED and the agency also recently conducted raids on the premises belonging to the Chief Minister’s family. Reports of an ED probe began with dissenter Basanagouda Patil Yatnal claiming that Mr. Vijayendra’s recent visit to Delhi was in connection with an ED probe. These reports, however, have now proven to be false.
Though the Chief Minister has cases of corruption pending against him, revived recently in a string of legal setbacks, none of them pertain to his present tenure.
The complaint filed by Mr. Abraham, however, is linked to this tenure. It alleges that Chief Minister’s family, including his son Mr. Vijayendra and grandson Shashidhar Mardi, received bribes of ₹12.5 crore from a contractor, Chandrakanth Ramalingam, and laundered ₹5.01 crore, alleged “proceeds of crime”, through a network of shell companies.
The Chief Minister and his son were accused of using strong-arm tactics against a Kannada news channel in September 2020, when it aired what it claimed was a sting operation where the said contractor accepted paying bribes. However, the contractor accused the channel of coercion, blackmail, and extortion.
“A setback in this case will be tough to defend and will weaken his standing as against his detractors,” said a senior party strategist. However, he added that the case was in a preliminary stage at the moment.
(With inputs from Devesh Pandey in Delhi)