Bangalore: JD-S leader H D Kumaraswamy on Wednesday
stuck to his controversial remarks that Mahatma Gandhi would
have turned corrupt in the present day politics, within days
after claiming he was misquoted.
"If Gandhiji were to be there in present day politics, he
would have either compromised (on corruption) or quit,"
Kumaraswamy told reporters here, asserting, "I will not go
back on my words."
Kumaraswamy, whose remarks on Gandhi evoked all round
condemnation, defended it saying he had "deliberately" cited
Gandhi in an effort to drive home the point that rampant
corruption had seeped into politics.
The former Karnataka chief minister said he never meant to
show disrespect to the Father of the Nation.
"We have hung the portraits of Gandhiji and JP (Jayprakash
Narayan) in the party office as a mark of our respect to
them," he said.
Kumaraswamy, son of former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda,
also expressed doubts over the efficacy of the proposed
Lokpal Bill in combating corruption.
The JD-S Karnataka chief wondered how the proposed Lokpal
with members nominated by the Government on its panel would be
able to suggest effective measures against corruption, which
he said had taken "deep roots in the society".
"Has the Lokayukta been able to punish any corrupt
official so far? We see the Lokayukta sleuths raiding and
trapping so many officials. What happens to them?" Kumaraswamy
Kumaraswamy however hastened to add that he does not mean
to discourage the efforts launched by Gandian Anna Hazare
Claiming that the movement launched by Narayan had failed,
he said, "It is my earnest hope that Anna Hazare`s campaign
does not meet the same end."
After his remarks on Gandhi had stirred up a controversy,
with leaders including Gandhian Anna Hazare, who led a
successful agitation on the Lokpal Bill issue, taking
exception to it, Kumaraswamy had claimed he was misquoted.
"If our leaders are talking like this, how are you going
to root out corruption," Hazare had said. Union Finance
Minister and veteran Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee had
dismissed it as "meaningless utterances."
The BJP too had slammed the JD-S leader, with its senior
BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad asking "what else can you
expect from Mr Kumaraswamy? Nothing better."
Kumaraswamy also alleged that Chief Minister B S
Yeddyurappa was "misleading" people over increase in revenue
collection, which he attributed to the hike in VAT rates.
"While Value Added Tax (VAT) in other states is 12.5 per
cent, in Karnataka the rate is 13.5 per cent. The 27 per cent
growth in revenue collection in the state against the 24 to 25
per cent registered by other neighbouring states has come
about by burdening the honest tax payer," Kumaraswamy alleged.
"Why has the Chief Minister not divulged the details of the
non-tax revenue, which has dipped from Rs 3,300 crore in 08-09
to Rs 2,800 crore last year against the Rs 10,214 crore by
Maharashtra, Rs 4,150 crore by Tamil Nadu and Rs 15,700 crore
by Andhra Pradesh," he asked.