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Karnataka: Amid Allegations of Corruption Against BJP, Two School Associations Clash

The President of RUPSA Karnataka, Lokesh Talikatte, alleged that private schools have been asked to pay large bribes for renewal of recognition and for reimbursement of fees under the Right to Education Act.
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Representational use only.image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Trouble seems to be mounting for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as multiple allegations of corruption have been levelled against the BJP-led state government in Karnataka. The latest allegation has been made by the Registered Unaided Private Schools Management Association (RUPSA Karnataka). The President of the organisation, Lokesh Talikatte, has alleged that private schools have been asked to pay large bribes for renewal of recognition and for reimbursement of fees under the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

Talikatte wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging corruption in the Education Department under state minister BC Nagesh.

On August 29, members of another private school association - Recognized Unaided Private Schools Association (RUPSA) - held a press conference in Bengaluru to allege that Lokesh Talikatte was misleading the public through his organisation. Kotresh, Joint secretary of RUPSA, said, “Lokesh Talikatte was the President of our organisation, but he was removed from his position in March 2021 for violating the principles of the association, following which he set up his own association with a similar name, logo, and motto. He is misleading the public. He is also collecting money from schools using our name. We want him to stop doing these activities by misung the name of our organisation. We work to solve the issues of private schools; we are not for or against any political party.”

RUPSA filed a complaint with the registrar of societies in 2021, contesting the name and symbols used by Talikatte’s association. Members of RUPSA produced a response from the Registrar of Societies on April 17, 2021, where the similarities in name, logo and motto are noted by the registrar. Talikatte’s organisation is abbreviated as RUPSA Karnataka and was registered on March 2, 2021, whereas the other organisation is abbreviated as RUPSA and was registered on October 9 2020. The registrar had directed Talikatte to change the motto of his association and to use RUPSMA as an abbreviation.

Shashidar Dindur, a member of RUPSA, said that their association was formed with the intention of highlighting the issues faced by private schools in the remote areas of Karnataka. He said that Talikatte was made the president of the association because he was based out of Bengaluru and was running a school in the capital. He was allegedly removed for taking unilateral decisions without consulting other members during the pandemic.

Talikatte could not be reached for comment.

Mounting Allegations of Corruption

Last week, the contractors’ association in Karnataka had levelled a charge against Cabinet Minister N Munirathna for allegedly demanding bribes from contractors. This is the second complaint by the association and the first time a sitting minister has been named in the complaint. He has denied the allegations. Earlier, in November, 2021, the association had written a letter to PM Modi, alleging harassment by ministers and demands of 40% commission to release payment for civil works.

In April this year, Santhosh Patil, a civil contractor and a member of the Hindu Yuva Vahini, had died by suicide in Udupi. He alleged harassment by former Karnataka minister KS Eshwarappa and non-payment of dues up to four crore rupees for road works undertaken in his village in Belagavi district.

KS Eshwarappa had denied all allegations. However, the then Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj was forced to resign. Following a police investigation, he was given a clean chit and a closure report was filed in the case. However, Patil’s family filed an appeal against the closure report. The case is presently being heard before the 42nd Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate in Bengaluru. It is a special court for cases against elected representatives.

The multiple allegations of corruption are weighing heavy on the BJP in the run up to the upcoming Legislative Assembly elections.

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