Bengaluru: Karnataka politics hit a new low yesterday with an ugly episode where former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy targeted independent Mandya MP Sumalatha Ambarish in an unbecoming manner referring to her statements on cracks in Krishna Raja Sagar (KRS) Dam owing to illegal mining around the Dam.
Sumalatha had raised the issue of damage caused by illegal mining to the Dam at a recent District Development, Coordination and Monitoring Committee (DISHA) meeting in Mandya.
The former CM distastefully said, “These meetings are meant to review the implementation of the Centre’s schemes at the district-level but the MP was speaking about cracks in the Dam because of illegal mining. She is speaking as if she is the only protector of KRS. If the gates are leaking, make her sleep in front of the gates and prevent water from leaking.”
Continuing, Kumaraswamy said, “Mandya never had an MP like her nor will get one like her in future. She has been elected on sympathy. Let her work properly. She will not get another opportunity like this. She is making statements out of personal hatred. People will not forgive her.” “Officials have already examined the Dam and have said there are no cracks. People will give a befitting reply to Sumalatha in the next election,” the former CM added.
Kumaraswamy’s comments came soon after he led a delegation of MLAs to Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa to impress upon him that the State-owned MySugar (Mysore Sugar) factory in Mandya should not be leased out to private industrial units.
There were reports that the factory was to be leased out to a sugar baron in Yediyurappa’s Cabinet and even Kumaraswamy had indicated that Sumalatha wanted privatisation of the factory.
Sumalatha hits back
Later in the day the first-time MP from Mandya Sumalatha sharply retorted to Kumaraswamy and said, “He should tender an apology for his derogatory comment. His statements reflected his culture. As a former CM, Kumaraswamy should know better not to make such personal comments on women.”
She questioned, “Parliament election results in Mandya have proved whom the people wanted to teach a lesson. Leave aside that I’m an MP, making personal attacks against a woman — what kind of culture is this? You were a former CM, don’t you have control over your language?”
“I have flagged concerns about the illegal mining around KRS several times and had even brought it to the notice of Mines and Geology Minister Murugesh Nirani. Illegal mining is a threat to the Dam. It is also causing huge losses to the State exchequer. I have never pointed out any names concerning this issue. But some people get agitated when I talk about illegal mining,” Sumalatha added.
Who is involved in mining an open secret
“Due to the rampant stone mining in the region, KRS Dam developed cracks. I have information that the Dam developed cracks. Only an investigation by experts can reveal the truth. However, local politicians are not allowing any kind of inspection by the experts,” she said.
“Nobody likes to see the Dam damaged. I have not mentioned any names but still some people get angry whenever I speak about illegal mining. It is an open secret in Mandya on who is involved in illegal mining,” she added.
She clarified that she was not pushing for handing over the MySugar factory to private parties. The MP said that she had only requested the Chief Minister to open the factory following an appeal by farmers.
“I only want the factory to restart. I am not part of the Government to say how it should be restarted. Any model that will enable reviving the factory would be good. What did he (Kumaraswamy) do to revive the factory when he was the CM,” she asked.
Kumaraswamy and Sumalatha have shared a bitter relationship after Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil Kumaraswamy was trounced in Mandya by Sumalatha by over a margin of 1.25 lakh votes. It was a humiliating defeat for the former CM despite being in power in Karnataka and having JD(S) MLAs in all constituencies in Mandya.
She is speaking as if she is the only protector of KRS. If the gates are leaking, make her sleep in front of the gates and prevent water from leaking. Mandya never had an MP like her nor will get one like her in future. She has been elected on sympathy. Let her work properly. —H.D. Kumaraswamy, former CM
Parliament election results in Mandya have proved whom the people wanted to teach a lesson. Leave aside that I’m an MP, making personal attacks against a woman — what kind of culture is this? You were a former CM, don’t you have control over your language? —Sumalatha Ambarish, Mandya MP