iPhones as gifts spark row in Karnataka

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iPhones as gifts spark row in Karnataka

BJP MP asks State to pay civic workers first, CM says govt. being maligned by lies

A seemingly generous decision to present expensive iPhones to State MPs seems to have boomeranged on the Karnataka government. The gift package, comprising an iPhone, a ‘Moochies’ laptop bag, and a folder, costing over ₹1 lakh in all, along with an invitation, had been despatched to each MP from Karnataka, ahead of a meeting with Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy.

The meeting was scheduled to take place at the Karnataka Bhavan in Delhi on July 18, and the discussion was expected to include the Cauvery dispute. But now the gift package has taken centre stage, with the Opposition BJP MPs rejecting the gift.

In a letter to the Chief Minister, copies of which were released to the press in Bengaluru on Tuesday, BJP MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar said that such extravagance was unacceptable in a situation where the government had no money to even pay the pourakarmikas (civic workers). “I urge you to pay the salaries of Pourakarmikas who tirelessly work to keep our city clean and focus on real austerity so that public money can be invested on those in need in our state,” the letter said. BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje said that the BJP MPs had decided not to accept gifts from the State government. Mr. Kumaraswamy, however, tweeted a reply to Mr. Chandrasekhar, clarifying that the government had not paid for the gifts. “Being an MP, before making an allegation on the government, I request you to kindly check the facts. You are trying to malign the image of the government… Karnataka government is not giving iPhone to the MPs and false propaganda from your side is highly condemnable.”

Water Resources Minister D.K. Shivakumar claimed to have paid for the gifts from his “personal funds” and denied that they had cost the exchequer anything.

He said that last year too, he had given cell phones to MPs. “All, including BJP MPs, had accepted the gifts,” he said. This time too, only Mr. Ananth Kumar and Mr. Chandrasekhar had rejected them.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to the gifts while addressing NDA floor leaders and said such an act, done when sections of society were in economic distress, was inappropriate.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Daily Report and is published from a The Hindu.)

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