Bangalore, Jun 5 (Bangalore Mirror): It’s quite common for wheeler-dealers and conmen in the city to drop the names of those in power. But they may not have reckoned with power minister Shobha Karandlaje, who in a dramatic operation had two such ‘power brokers’ caught by the Cubbon Park police personnel while trying to take a Rs 1.7 crore bribe in her name.
The duo, identified as Narasimha Chowdhury of Hyderabad and Mohan, a middleman who has a free entry to Vidhana Soudha and several other government offices, tried to cheat a Hyderabad-based private power company, Power Earth, which had supplied electricity to Bescom and other electrical companies of the state.
According to the police, the duo had approached the company which was trying to get their Rs 17 crore in dues cleared by the ministry headed by Shobha.
Narasimha Chowdhury met the firm’s MD, Prasad, with an offer to clear the dues for a 10 per cent cut. He also told Prasad that the money was meant to be delivered to Shobha’s party men.
After the firm agreed to the deal, Narasimha roped in Mohan, who in turn made the request to the minister through some journalists, the police said. But the power ministry did not clear the dues.
Meanwhile, the Hyderabad firm approached a court in Bangalore and got a favourable order which directed the ministry to clear dues immediately.
When Chowdhury and Mohan learnt that the power ministry was clearing the dues, they approached Prasad again demanding their 10 per cent cut.
Unaware of the court order, they also told Prasad that Shobha wanted that money immediately. Prasad made them wait for a day and got in touch with Shobha directly and asked her whether she had deputed anyone to collect Rs 1.7 crore from him.
On learning this, a furious Shobha asked him to bring them to Bangalore on the pretext of giving money.
She then got in touch with Gopal B Hosur, the head of state intelligence, and laid a trap for them. When they two came to Bangalore, they were arrested by the Cubbon Park police. Police investigations have also revealed the role of three journalists, one from a national English daily and two others from a Kannada television channel, who had made the request to Shobha.
A ruling party MLC, who runs a college, had also made a similar request to her.
“It appears that two journalists from a television channel are also involved. We are examining their role,” said a senior police officer probing the case.
Reacting to the incident, Shobha Karandlaje said, “Someone informed me about these people misusing my name. I took it seriously and informed the police, who acted immediately.
“I appeal to the people and business fraternity not to entertain such middlemen, and approach concerned officials if such requests are made in my name or the ministry.”
One must beware of ministers who can do nothing without money, and those who want to do everything with money.
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