Karnataka CM: Hublot watch will be government asset
Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah stated that his Rs.70 lakh diamond studded watch would be a state asset. He said that the watch was gifted to him in 2015 by Dr. Girish Chandra Varma, a cardiac-surgeon in Dubai. Calling the Hublot a 'second-hand-watch', Siddaramaiah said that he would provide the Lokayukta and the IT department with all the details and documents relating to the watch.
Political parties geared-up for the Zilla Panchayat and Taluk Panchayat elections in Karnataka. Amidst the Panchayat election campaigns, Karnataka's former CM HD Kumaraswamy of the JD(S) waged a verbal war against CM Siddaramaiah. Kumaraswamy argued that if the CM is a real socialist, why is he fond of pricey accessories like sunglasses which cost Rs.50,000 and a Hublot wrist-watch worth Rs.70 lakh.
Reacting to the statements made by Kumaraswamy, Siddaramaiah said that he is ready to sell the watch for Rs.2-3 lakh, suggesting that the watch isn't worth Rs.70 lakh. According to Kumaraswamy, the diamond-studded Hublot watch is worth Rs.68,56,000 and adding the duty-tax it would cost Rs.70 lakh. Kumaraswamy added that he has proof from retailers in Dubai to confirm the price.
This is not the first time that the Karnataka CM's lavish lifestyle was in the spotlight. During the inauguration of the Karnataka Silk Industry, the CM allegedly bought a waterproof silk saree worth Rs.1.08 lakh for his wife.
Ramammurthy Gowda, activist and Chairman of Bengaluru based Human Rights & Corruption Eradication filed a complaint against CM Siddaramaiah. He filed a complaint with the Karnataka Lokayukta and stated that even if the Hublot watch was a gift then Siddaramaiah had violated the Income Tax Act, 1961. He stated that it also violated the Karnataka Lokayukta Act and Representation of the People Act, 1951.
The debate on Siddaramaiah's expensive accessories had reached the Raj Bhavan. An RTI activist asked Karnataka Governor Vaju Vala to sanction a probe to investigate the matter and find out if the Karnataka CM violated the law.
While all political parties demanded answers from CM Siddaramiah, Congress MLC Ugrappa put three options before the CM. Ugrappa said that the CM can either return the gift back to the person who gave it, or he can auction it or announce it as an asset of the state. In response, Siddaramaiah said that he would talk about the issue at an appropriate time.