Some Congress ministers have looted Wakf assets: KS Eshwarappa

Deccan Chronicle spoke to Mr Eshwarappa, in Shivamogga, to know the party's view on these controversial subjects.

Former deputy chief minister and Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council K.S. Eshwarappa is on a crusade against the Congress government, relentlessly demanding that the government table the Wakf Board property report in the Council. Already, the Congress government is facing the heat from all corners over the CM’s Hublot watch row and the party’s poor performance in the recent ZP/TP polls. Deccan Chronicle spoke to Mr Eshwarappa, in Shivamogga, to know the party’s view on these controversial subjects. Excerpts:

You have been demanding the tabling of the Anwar Manipaddy report. What would you like to achieve through this?
See, the sacred book of Islam – The Quran says ‘don’t steal or engage in wrong deeds’. Almost all Congress leaders of Karnataka enjoyed top positions in the state and at the Centre and some of them have not only stolen Muslim properties, they have literally looted them. According to the report, the value of 57,000 acres of Wakf Board properties across the state in 2012 was Rs 4 lakh crore, which has now touched Rs 15 lakh crore. If Congress leaders are not guilty, let them table the report in the Council and prove they have not misused Muslim properties. Our demand is that Wakf Board properties spread across the state which are assets of the Muslim community, should be protected. This is not only the demand of the BJP. The affidavit filed in court by Mr Ateeq Ahmed, secretary of the Minorities Commission has mentioned about the misappropriation of Wakf properties when Congress leaders like C.K. Jaffer Sharief, C.M. Ibrahim, former minister Aziz Sait and his son Tanvir Sait, MLA N.A. Haris, Rehman Khan, Dharam Singh and Mallikarjun

Kharge ruled the roost. When D.V. Sadananda Gowda was CM, the matter was handed over to the Lokayukta for an inquiry. During the tenure of Jagadish Shettar as CM, all deputy commissioners were asked to take action in this regard. After the Congress came to power in 2013, it ensured that no further action was taken. If Anwar Manipaddy’s report is tabled before the Council, all these issues will come to light.

There is a CID report given by Dr Mahesh which is more specific. Why don’t you insist that this report be tabled?
I do not have any idea about the report given by Dr Mahesh. There are three reasons why we are putting pressure for tabling of the Manipaddy report. One, during the meeting of the business advisory committee headed by chairman of the Council D.H. Shankaramurthy, Law Minister T.B. Jayachandra had said the report will be tabled. Second, Mr Shankaramurthy has ruled that the report should be tabled. Thirdly, the High Court had directed the state government that CM Siddaramaiah should table the report.

There is a contradiction in your approach. You have been fighting with the government over giving facilities to Muslims. But you have suddenly decided to take up the issue of Wakf property. Who will trust your commitment?
The programmes and policies announced for Muslims’ benefit are different from the issue of Wakf property. The above mentioned Congress leaders who were office-bearers of the Wakf Board, have looted properties of Muslims which has been mentioned in Manipaddy report. We are not mixing programmes implemented for welfare of Muslims and Wakf Board issue.

As it is, Muslims are not with you. This fight will not take you anywhere politically.
Whether the Muslims are with us or not, it does not matter. Earlier the BJP was coined as the ‘Brahmins’ party.’ Now all communities are attracted towards BJP. One day the Muslims who are far from us, will also come to us. There is no question of political gain. Our aim is to safeguard the interests of Muslims by ensuring the misused properties of Wakf Board are restored to them.

As the opposition party, people feel you failed to take up the right issues. Why?
Who brought up the issue of drinking water scarcity in the state due to the drought? Who other than BJP has discussed this? We also questioned the utilization of central funds provided to deal with crop insurance. All prevailing issues were discussed in the House by the BJP.

People still feel the BJP is not doing anything. Corruption and nepotism practised by the Congress government were not exposed by the BJP. You have not taken up issues pertaining to the common man.
Some people who are against the BJP might be saying this. Issues pertaining to the common man like increasing crime against women, farmer suicides, problems people faced due to the drought and crop insurance have been discussed by BJP. We also highlighted the misdeeds of the Congress and the watch issue.

Your party is dreaming of returning to power in 2018. But, the party is disorganized, there is a trust deficit among voters. There are five or six CM candidates. Who will trust BJP?
BJP has a democratic setup unlike Congress which still has a dictatorial style of functioning. Our office bearers are elected in a democratic manner. That’s why a chaotic atmosphere similar to that in the Congress, can’t be seen in our party. All the differences have been resolved. Though there might be many leaders in the race to lead the party in the state, ultimately the leader who is elected democratically gets the chance.

The process to select a president of the state unit is due. Who will become the new president?
Party seniors will meet and decide. There are many in the race including former Chief Minister B.S.Yeddyurappa. The central leadership will take a decision.

Are you waiting for the Congress to appoint a new president? The Congress is waiting for the BJP to appoint state president so that it could work out a social engineering strategy and appoint a president.
The Bharatiya Janata Party will not depend on other parties while electing its chief. When Mr Nitin Gadkari was BJP president, how many people knew him? People still voted BJP to power. Individuals do not make a difference. People assess how the party is performing, not who is its chief. Internal hiccups in Congress have nothing to do with us. Whether they elect their state chief or not, God only knows. But we do not have a ‘wait and watch’ approach. When Congress elected Dr G. Parameshwar as the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee chief, they did not check who the Bharatiya Janata Party chief was.

The BJP did not protest on the watch issue in public saying it was a stolen watch. Doesn’t this prove some BJP leaders are hand in glove with the Chief Minister?
It was the Bharatiya Janata Party which directly demanded Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s resignation on the wrist watch issue. Some people who are against the party, make such baseless comments.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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