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Veerappa Moily faces corruption charges, again

Last updated on: March 24, 2013 13:00 IST

Veerappa Moily faces corruption charges, again

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Aditi Phadnis

Union Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily is no stranger to corruption charges. These have come at regular intervals during a stellar political career. Unlike other politicians, Moily has never had charges of murder or kidnapping levelled against him: it has always been... corruption, most of them unproven; but you know what they say about smoke and fire.

On this occasion too, Moily has issued a strong statement refuting the charges. "I would like to categorically state that there has been absolutely no occasion for me to extend any kind of favour or help to any corporation for seeking financial assistance for the Trust," a statement by him said about reports that a business house had paid donations to a trust owned by his family when he was the Union minister for corporate affairs.

Moily said his son, Harsha, professionally and independently runs the company, MokshaYug Access India, and is a trustee in the Kisan Sabha Trust. He said he was immensely "pained to see Harsha, who built and professionally manages a company that is playing an important role in driving prosperity in rural India, being condemned by vested interests merely because he happens to be son of a political person".

"It is also a matter of fact that Harsha has been successfully working towards social cause on the basis of his own conscience and without any political ambitions," he said.

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Image: Union Petroleum Minister M Veerappa Moily
Photographs: Courtesy: Veerappa Moily's website

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The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party sees things slightly differently and says that the trust is neither charitable nor for the poor: not only does it charge capitation fee, but it has also encroached on land belonging to the government.

Moily's life has been punctuated by such events. Born in the Dakshina Kannada district of south Karnataka, Moily is a lawyer and fought his first assembly election from Karkala in 1974.

He belongs to a numerically-weak backward community and was handpicked by then Karnataka chief minister, Devraj Urs, to be the small-scale industries minister. He remained minister in the Gundu Rao, Veerendra Patil and S Bangarappa governments.

The first corruption charge came in 1984 when as leader of the opposition he was accused by an independent MLA of trying to bribe Janata Party MLAs to defect to the Congress. The infamous Moily tapes surfaced soon after. For eight years after that, Moily fought the stain of corruption alone, with the Congress distancing itself from him.

In 1992, however, he resurfaced when the Congress high command removed S Bangarappa as chief minister and central observers Nawal Kishore Sharma and Jagannath Mishra suggested Moily as a replacement rather than S M Krishna.

Moily may not have led the Congress to victory in those assembly polls, but the state has much to thank him for, not the least of which is the common entrance test for professional educational institutions in the state and the setting up of the Mangalore University.

He was also the chairman of a tax reforms commission under the S M Krishna government in Karnataka. Moily's literary bent -- he has written several novels and two books of poetry -- and his background in law have stood him in good stead.

Thus, in 2004, despite having lost the Lok Sabha polls from Mangalore, Moily has been steadily utilised by the United Progressive Alliance government and the Congress. He headed the Administrative Reforms Commission and has written tomes on various subjects including police reform (unimplemented). 

The latest corruption charges come at a time when Karnataka assembly elections have just been announced. Moily is expected to play a big role in the elections; it is possible that the timing is strategic, especially as the Congress is expected to win. How the party handles this round of charges remains to be seen.


Image: Union Petroleum Minister M Veerappa Moily
Photographs: Courtesy: Veerappa Moily's website
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