RSS general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale may have declared that scam-tainted former chief minister of Karnataka, B. S. Yeddyurappa, is an embarrassment to the BJP because of his involvement in various land scams. But the RSS was among the major beneficiaries of Yeddy's land largesse.
The state government allotted prime commercial lands and residential plots valued at around Rs. 50 crore at throw away prices to as many as six RSS- affiliated organisations and seven leaders from the RSS background whereas more than 3,50,000 people have been waiting patiently for allotment of a plot developed by government agencies. No wonder, the state RSS unit leaders are rallying behind the jailed-Yeddyurappa as a thanks-giving service for his magnanimity.
The RSS-backed organisations, which have been allotted land on a preferential basis by the government through Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) and Greater Bangalore City Corporation (GBCC), include Rashtrotthana Parishath, Jana Seva Vidya Kendra, Samskara Bharathi, Hindu Jagaran Vedike, Mahila Dakshata Samithi and Anantha Shishu Nivasa. Each of these organisations pays nominal rents ranging between Rs. 1 lakh and Rs. 2 lakh per annum to the government whereas the property in their possession runs into crores of rupees.
Calls to RSS spokespersons, seeking clarification over the issue, were not returned. BJP's Karnataka unit chief K.S. Eshwarappa said he was not aware of the matter. "I need to ascertain the facts before making a comment. I am busy with other commitments. I don't know about any such allotments,"he said.
Though there is no illegality in allotting prime land to these organisations, the government is not fully realising the commercial value of the land, as they pay only a pittance for using the land on a long-term basis. It results in loss to the exchequer.
"Had the government auctioned the land or collected rent on par with the prevailing market rates from these organisations, it would have mobilised resources for development works," Janata Dal (Secular) spokesperson Y. S. V. Dutta said.
Ironically, applications of several other organisations, including those promoting art, culture and sports, for allotment of subsidised land in the city, are pending approval. "Hundreds of government offices are functioning out of rented premises in Bangalore. Instead of leasing out land to the RSS, the government could have constructed office buildings on the same and save money," Dutta said. Rashtrotthana Parishath is the biggest beneficiary of Yeddyurappa's allegiance to the Sangh. It got a 906.2 square meters of a civic amenity (CA) site in the upmarket Sadashivanagar for a pittance to run a health care centre. CA sites are allotted only for a specific period (ranging between 10-30 years) but rarely does the BDA recovers such sites, as they get their lease extended easily.
Real estate prices are one of the highest in Sadashivanagar. The market value of the land allotted to the Parishath is least Rs. 13 crore. The Bangalore Development Authority BDA) had leased the land to the Sangh outfit.
The second biggest beneficiary Yeddyurappa's benevolence is the Jana Seva Vidya Kendra, which got over 10 acres of land expand the campus of a Kendra- run residential school. It situated in Channenahalli on the outskirts of Bangalore.
The previous government had acquired the land from the farmers to construct a housing project for the poor. But the Yeddyurappa government arm- twisted the allottees to surrender their land and it was then transferred to the Vidya Kendra. The market value of the property is over Rs. 15 crore,"H. C. Balakrishna, local JD( S) legislator said.
Balakrishna said the villagers have moved court, which has set up a committee to examine the case.
Samskara Bharthi and Hindu Jagaran Vedike - key-affiliates of the RSS - have each been allotted 2,000 sq ft of land at different locations in Bangalore. The combined value of the land allotted to both the organisations on a long-term lease basis is over Rs. 5 crore.
Also, the Anatha Shishu Nivasa got 3,585 sq mt of land in Poornapragna House Building Cooperative Society and the Mahila Dakshaka Samithi 396 sq mt in Vidyaranyapura. The combined market value of both the properties is nearly Rs. 5 crore.
Yeddyurappa set aside rules to allot land to RSS outfits. They were given residential plots under the 'G' category - which is reserved for achievers in the fields of sports, culture, arts and social service. Plots under this category are priced at between Rs. 6-12 lakh. Apart from Sangh outfits, RSS leaders also benefited from Yeddy's land largesse. They include those from the Sangh- backed labour union, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, local leaders (Pracharak), writers for RSS' publications and BJP leaders who are close to the Sangh.
"The preferential allotment of residential plots and CA sites to RSS organisations and leaders is in clear violation of the BDA rules. What is their contribution to society? How will the government justify the allotment? Now, people will know why the BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders have not initiated any action against Yeddyurappa, who is behind the bars for murky land deals," state Congress spokesperson V. S. Ugrappa said.
Ugrappa claimed that the state organic farming mission is headed by hardcore RSS leader, A. S. Anand. "Is anybody monitoring what is happening with the mission or its objectives? The BJP government has been too generous with its political masters," he said.
Whenever Yeddyurappa was asked to quit earlier this year in view of the land scam allegations, he held out a "threat" to "expose" senior BJP leaders, who took favours from him.
Clearly, Yeddyurappa knows how to please his bosses both in the party as well as his alma mater, the RSS