Karnataka: Congress minister seeks IAS' immediate transfer
This follows successive actions against animal husbandry minister A. Manju by Hassan deputy commissioner Rohini Sindhuri who found him on the wrong side of the poll code on two instances.
After getting Manju's district office locked for alleged misuse of the government facility for political work, Sindhuri reported the minister to the chief electoral officer in charge of Karnataka citing alleged violations amounting to "bribery".
A tough officer known for her grit, Sindhuri reported the minister for allegedly granting government land to landless cultivators in the second breach of the poll code.
She recommended action under IPC Section 171 that deals with instances of any gratification with the objective of inducing for electoral gains, said a government source in Bangalore.
Sindhuri also issued a notice to Manju, a powerful Congress politician who is most likely to contest from Arkalgud in Hassan for another term.
Sindhuri said she was only trying to enforce the code of conduct for a free and fair election. Karnataka is scheduled to go to polls in May.
"I am trying to enforce what is in the code of conduct and nothing more," the IAS officer told a news conference in Hassan on Tuesday.
"No notice has come to me on anything related to this," she said, answering a question on whether the Election Commission had served her a notice based on the minister's complaint in which he sought her transfer.
A government official corroborated Sindhuri's viewpoint and said she had full authority to report anyone.
"There is a provision to grant such government land to landless cultivators. But it's a violation to do so once the model code of conduct comes into force," said the official who didn't want to be named.
A few days ago Sindhuri had issued a showcause notice to Manju for violating the code of conduct by misusing his government-maintained district office for work related to the elections.
Being the minister in charge of Hassan, Manju has been provided with an office space at the inspection bungalow in the city. But Sindhuri locked up the office on finding the office was being allegedly used for work related to the minister's election campaign.
Faced with the possibility of action by the Election Commission for the two alleged violations, Manju has written to the chief electoral officer and sought the immediate transfer of Sindhuri "in the interest of fair and free polls".
He also sought the Election Commission's intervention in getting her to withdraw the complaint against him, call a news conference to narrate the "true set of facts" and act in accordance with the poll code.
Manju accused Sindhuri of being "determined to tarnish" his image without considering his response to the showcause notice regarding the alleged misuse of the government office.
The officer has not been on good terms with the minister because of her objections to some of his decisions.
Six months after assuming charge in Hassan, Sindhuri had been transferred following serious differences with Manju over the preparations for the Jain religious event Mahamastakabhisheka of the giant statue of Bahubali, a first-century Jain saint.
Not one to be cowed down, Sindhuri had dragged the state government to the high court and the Central Administrative Tribunal.
The government had to back off and withdraw the transfer when the Election Commission put on hold all transfers until the finalisation of the electoral rolls.
She was again served with a transfer order on March 5, which the high court kept in abeyance pending the tribunal's decision.
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