BENGALURU: Moves to unseat Chairman of the Legislative Council, D.H. Shankaramurthy, are evidently taking with JD(S) patriarch H.D. Deve Gowda dropping hints to the longest serving MLC and party leader in the upper House, Basavaraj Horatti, that he ought to occupy the key post.
Thus, Mr Horatti has cleared the first hurdle, but would have to await other developments, according to sources in JD(S). First, members of the Congress must decide on moving a no-confidence motion against Mr Horatti as well as offer the post to JD(S). Besides, state JD(S) chief H.D. Kumaraswamy, scheduled to return from his foreign tour, must accept the offer of Congress. “If these hurdles are cleared, Mr Horatti will throw his hat in the ring,” sources added.
Sources said Congress leaders were willing to move no-confidence motion against Mr Shankaramurthy and to ensure that the motion does not fail, even devised a foolproof strategy. The leaders reportedly got some BJP members to agree to stay away from the House so that the Congress, with the help of independents, should unseat Mr Shankaramurthy.
“Once he is unseated, local leaders can brief central leaders that they lack the numerical strength to elect one of their as members as Chairman and must depend on JD(S). If central leaders give permission, then JD(S) leader Mr Horatti can become Chairman,” sources added.
Meti comes in for some ribbing over liquor sale
It was no initiation by fire, but newly appointed Excise Minister H Y Meti did come in for some ribbing in the Assembly on Tuesday as members hit out at the government for promoting liquor sales in the state to the detriment of the people, who were becoming addicted to it.
As the debate continued, BJP members Basavaraj Bommai and Laxman Savadi used the opportunity to poke some fun at Mr Meti saying it all depended on how he chose to go about administering his department.
“If you go about things in your old way (when he used to drink) you are bound to generate revenue. But if you administer the department as a changed man (referring to his decision to quit drinking), your department will earn less,'' they observed tongue- in- cheek much to the minister’s discomfiture. It all started with Hirekeruru MLA, U B Banakar raising the issue of liquor sales in the state.
Members cutting across party lines rose to their feet to say addiction to liquor was rising in villages with the poor like auto drivers and even school children drinking at all times of the day due to its easy availability.
Mr Suresh Kumar of the BJP rued that wine shops , that opened by 6 am were frequented by autorickshaw drivers and coolies at all times of the day. Mr Visveshwar Hegde Kageri claimed MSIL wine shops had been issued notices by the Excise Department to reach a specific sales target and so were selling liquor even through petty shops in villages.
“Schoolchildren are taking to drinking as a result,” he said. While denying that any specific sales target had been given to MSIL wine shops, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, however, said there was need to mop up more revenue through excise duties and the department had been given a target of Rs 16,200 crore this year as against the Rs 15,200 crore it had collected in duties last year.
“This is necessary for running the government. Every government has done the same,” he added defensively.