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‘Night life’ sizzles in Karnataka politics
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Santosh HegdeBangalore , September 4
The jury is divided on whether it was a deadly upper-cut or a knock-out punch that has forced former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, a JD (S) MP, to lie low. But the politician refuses to retire hurt and promises to return for another round of what is turning out to be an absorbing boxing bout.

Even a personal apology tendered to Santosh Hegde over the telephone by the former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda for the indiscreet comments by his son and efforts by the Gowda family to restrain the enfant terrible of the brood, Kumaraswamy, seem to have failed to bring a closure to the slanging match between the two.

Kumaraswamy chewed more than he could swallow when he questioned N. Santosh Hegde’s ‘night life’ on a local Kannada TV channel. The retired Supreme Court judge and former Lokayukta, he suggested, could not possibly afford such an extravagant ‘night life’ and said it should be probed.

Like most Indian politicians, Kumaraswamy too underestimated both the medium and the subject. A livid Hegde hit back the next morning with the acerbic statement that for the past 42 years he had ‘only one wife and one household’. Before questioning his conduct, he added, people should look inwards.

The reference was meant to bring to light allegations questioning Kumaraswamy’s marital fidelity.

But while the retired judge appeared to have dealt a knock-out punch, a defiant Kumaraswamy refused to apologise or express regret over the statement. He had documents to prove his charge, he announced, and would soon be making them public.

Hegde’s report into illegal mining, which led to Yeddyurappa’s ouster from the Chief Minister’s post, had also mentioned the out of turn help extended by Kumaraswamy to a mining company when he was Chief Minister. Hegde, however, refrained from making any recommendation against the JD(S) leader.

This led to tongues wagging in official circles about a “hidden nexus between Hegde and Kumaraswamy”. Hegde’s appointment as Lokayukta during Kumaraswamy’s tenure as CM was also cited to back this story. But clearly Kumaraswamy continues to be upset over the report.

Trusted aides of Hegde laughed off the controversy and said that the retired judge does share a drink or two in the evening with his nephews. Only occasionally do they go out. “ If drinking is deemed a vice, then he could be held guilty,” they added.





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