Hassan Deputy Commissioner Rohini Sindhuri's transfer from Hassan recently stirred up a row and it was district in-charge and Minister for Animal Husbandry and Sericulture A. Manju who came in for severe criticism especially from the Janata Dal (Secular). The party held him solely responsible for Rohini's transfer from Hassan just six months after she took charge and at a time when Mahamastakabhisheka and Assembly polls are round the corner. JD(S) leaders attacked Mr Manju saying he was desperate for a “commission” from the funds allocated for the Mahamastakabhisheka of Bahubali at Shravanabelagola, a Jain pilgrim centre. Despite the criticism, an unfazed Manju said he is focused on making the Mahamastakabhisheka a grand success and expresseed happiness over the progress of work at Shravanabelagola. After the Mahamastakabhisheka, he also has the task of making sure his party wins more seats in the forthcoming Assembly polls in a JD(S) bastion. In an interview with Deccan Chronicle, the minister spoke about the functioning of Rohini Sindhuri and wanted her to mend her ways. He also accused the JD(S) of unnecessarily trying to make an issue out of the transfer row. Here are excerpts from the interview.
Are you happy with the style of functioning of Deputy Commissioner Rohini Sindhuri?
It is not the question of whether I am happy or unhappy. But people of the district are unhappy over the style of functioning of Rohini Sindhuri. Rohini is an employee of our state and she has to go by the orders of the state government. Only then is serving the poor possible. We are all servants of the people and elected representatives deserve respect. For a Deputy Commissioner, there is a limit and she cannot go against democracy. She should not be a publicity monger. It is not her job. She is supposed to do her work.
What annoyed you the most about Rohini’s style of functioning?
I have come across several instances of Rohini Sindhuri showing disrespect to elected representatives. She has shown disrespect to MLC Gopalaswami and he was made to wait. Besides, soon after taking charge as Deputy Commissioner, Rohini ordered that no maxicabs should operate and hundreds of people are dependent on maxicabs for their livelihood. How will they survive? People will question us. She should not have an ego while discharging her duties. She has to devote time for the people and speak to the poor to address their grievances. But, I will not question her integrity.
Did you insist on her (Rohini) transfer?
No, No... I did not insist on her transfer from Hassan. If an individual transfer had happened, then it would have been a different question. But some other IAS officers were also transferred along with Rohini. The decision to transfer IAS officers was an administrative decision. Moreover, I was not consulted by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Rohini's transfer.
However, your party colleague B Shivaram has put the blame on you for Rohini’s transfer?
An audio clip went viral, a couple of days back, wherein Mr Shivram was heard saying to a party worker that it was he who got Rohini transferred by mounting pressure on Mr Siddaramaiah. Then, where is the question of my role in her transfer? The audio clip says a lot on the matter. I don't want to speak on it much.
There are allegations that you do not get along well with DCs?
So far, I have never insisted that any particular officer should be posted to Hassan or be transferred, be it previous DCs Anbukumar, Umesh Kusugal or Chaitra. But, it was former Prime Minister and Hassan Lok Sabha member H.D. Deve Gowda who wrote a couple of letters to the state government asking for the transfer of Chaitra, the predecessor of Rohini Sindhuri.
Then why is Deve Gowda pointing fingers at you over Rohini’s transfer?
I will not speak against Mr Deve Gowda. I respect his age and also the fact that he is someone who held the top most position in the country. Till now, I have not made any personal comment against Mr Deve Gowda.
JD(S) MLA H.D. Revanna has also levelled charges against you?
I am a graduate while Mr Revanna has just passed seventh standard. I have common sense being an elected member of the Bengaluru University senate for 13 years and having served as Secretary of Vokkaligara Sangha for 25 years. I have come up in society through hard work and not because of somebody's grace. My father was a farmer and an affluent person. My son Manthar Gowda, a ZP member, is a radiologist by profession and my daughter is also a doctor. Such is our family's reputation. I’m not a person to seek “commission” from the fund allocation for the international event to mark the head anointing ceremony of Bahubali. I may be head of the Mahamastakabhisheka Committee but the DC is the head of accounts. All things have happened in a transparent manner under the e-tendering process. Making the ceremony a grand success will be a most satisfying job. Revanna might have made the charges out of jealousy since arrangements for the head anointing ceremony have been up to the mark and the credit goes to the state government which has spent Rs 175 crore without a single rupee contribution from the Union Government. I have details on how funds were spent for the Mahamastakabhisheka during my tenure and want Mr Revanna also to come out with details on the money he spent when he was district incharge and Minister for Public Works Department during the head anointing ceremony of Bahubali held in 2006.
You and Rohini did not agree on selecting the agency for scaffolding work for the event. Why did you insist on KRDCL for the work?
I wanted the scaffolding work to be entrusted to Karnataka Road Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL) instead of Public Works Department as giving the scaffolding work to PWD would have meant 45 days time for inviting tenders. Since I wanted to expedite the scaffolding work, KRDCL was preferred. That's all. Now, scaffolding has been constructed using German technology unlike during Mr Revanna's tenure when wooden logs were used for scaffolding. In 12 years, scaffolding technology has seen drastic changes, we are the first to adopt it in the country. I am happy that the satellite towns for lodging visitors at Shravanabelagola will have high standards. Besides, road connectivity has been provided to Shravanabelagola from all taluk headquarters of Hassan, sewage facilities and drinking water among other basic amenities have been ensured for the convenience of visitors.
Then, Why is the JD(S) targetting you?
It might be out of jealousy over my achievements as district in-charge minister. They do not like others performing well in public life. The JD(S) wants to create a black spot out of nothing. And, I have accepted their challenge. They tried to stop my elevation as Minister but it was Mr Siddaramaiah who recognized me and made me a Minister. As District in-charge Minister, I have not compromised in politics and proved my mettle winning the MLC poll in a JD(S) dominated district and also won several seats in the Zilla Panchayat polls.
Coming to the assembly polls, how many seats will the Congress win in Hassan under you?
State Government's programmes have reached the people who are happy over the achievements of our government. I am hopeful of winning all the seven seats in Hassan.
Will your son Manthar Gowda contest the assembly election?
No. He will not contest. It is because I will lose the right to speak against the dynastic politics of Deve Gowda family.