Mysuru: Backward Classes Welfare Minister Puttaranga Shetty, has strongly denied the allegation that the cash seized from one of his staff members at Vidhana Soudha was meant for him and also refused to step down, arguing that this would amount to accepting his guilt, when he had done nothing wrong.
"I have been in politics for the past 40 years. Being from one of the most backward communities, the Uppars, I have come up the hard way. I have served as vice president of the Chamarajanagar Zilla Panchayat and am serving a second term as MLA of Chamarajnagar constituency. I have been honest and on such good terms with my officers that they don't like to move out of Chamarajnagar," he said.
As for the charges of corruption against him following the money found on " a typist in Vidhan Soudha" in his words, he said he was prepared to resign, but if he did it would indirectly amount to accepting his guilt when he was innocent. "But if allegations against me are proved, I will resign not just as minister but also as MLA. I don't know why such allegations are being made against me all of a sudden. Only God knows the truth," he added.
While the BJP is baying for his blood after his personal assistant was caught with huge amounts of unaccounted cash in Vidhana Soudha recently and is insisting that he be dropped from the state Cabinet, Minister Puttarangashetty doesn't seem to be popular with district officers of Chamarajnagar either.
Some of the 40 Karnataka Administrative Services (KAS) officers in various government departments in the district allege that they have paid him between Rs 2 lakh to Rs 20 lakh to retain their positions. While this trend was restricted to officers of his Chamarajnagar constituency in the past, it has now been extended to district officers after he assumed charge as district minister, they claim.
"If the officers are transferred in the middle of the academic year, they find it difficult to move owing to their children's education. Also, if their spouses are working in Mysuru or their children are studying there, officers in Chamarajangar prefer to continue working in the district as it is close to it. But they cannot hope to do so unless they part with some money to Mr Puttarangshetty," they allege, claiming that even this did not guarantee their position as the minister often gave it to the highest bidder.
"Even after we pay him, should an officer from elsewhere want the same position in Chamarajnagar and offers him a higher amount, he will oblige him rather than us," they charge.
Top officers of the Chamarajangar district administration, however, had nothing to complain about the backward classes minister....