Udupi, (The Hindu): BJP leader and former MLA K. Raghupati Bhat said on Wednesday that Minister of State for Fisheries, Youth Empowerment and Sports Pramod Madhwaraj had none but himself to blame for the High Court of Karnataka order quashing the 55 route permits of low-floor Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation buses in Udupi district.
Addressing presspersons here, Mr. Bhat said that nearly 90% of bus owners were either from or supporters of the Congress, including K. Rajavarma Ballal and Abhayachandra Jain. However, there were a few leaders of the BJP, who were also bus owners, including Kuilady Suresh Nayak and Vilas Nayak.
The Congress was portraying BJP as the supporter of private bus operators in the district. But it was a delegation of private bus operators headed by Rajya Sabha member Oscar Fernandes, who had approached Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy and urged him not to allow the low-floor KSRTC buses in the district, about three months ago.
The confrontation between the private bus operators and government buses had arisen because of the improper disbursal of permits by the district administration to the KSRTC low-floor buses. If the permits had been given as per the rules, the High Court would not have quashed them, he said.
Mr. Bhat said as Udupi district in-charge Minister Mr. Madhwaraj should have resolved the problem of timings and permits by holding talks with private bus operators. After all, the private bus operators had given good service to the people for decades till the low-floor KSRTC buses arrived about 10 months ago, he said. A large number of local persons worked as drivers and conductors in private buses. It was necessary to think about their livelihood also. Instead of resolving the issue of permits and timings of private and government buses peacefully, Mr. Madhwaraj created conditions where the latter had to approach the High Court.
But the quashing of the permits of low-floor government buses has only benefited the private bus operators, he said. The Congress should remember that it was BJP which had introduced the government Volvo service on the Udupi-Mangaluru route. “But, we had taken the private operators into confidence while introducing the government Volvo bus service,” Mr. Bhat said.
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