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Karnataka: H D Kumaraswamy demands Higher Education Minister Ashwath Narayan’s ouster over BMSET row

HD Kumaraswamy has accused Higher Education Minister Ashwath Narayan of allowing a public charity to be converted into a private trust, a charge the minister has denied.

nl 14 r2Former Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy (Express Photo/File)

Legislature Janata Dal (secular) party leader HD Kumaraswamy demanded the resignation of Karnataka Higher Education Minister CN Ashwath Narayan on Friday, accusing him of irregularities in clearing a file in which businessman Dayanand Pai was appointed life manager of BMS Educational Trust (BMSET).

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Kumaraswamy, who raised the issue in the state’s legislative assembly on Thursday, reiterated his demand in a tweet on Friday, urging the government of Karnataka to take over all of the trust’s property.

Kumaraswamy has accused Narayan of allowing a public charity to be turned into a private trust, a charge denied by the minister. Narayan dismissed allegations of irregularities, claiming that the granting of approval was procedural only. The government’s role in trust remains intact, he said.

However, the JD(S) pushed for Narayan’s resignation and questioned his approval of Pai’s appointment, despite objections from the Consortium of Medical, Engineering and Dental Colleges of Karnataka (COMEDK). The issue was discussed in the state legislature on Thursday.

Narayan’s decision, Kumaraswamy said, had diluted the government’s say in the trust’s affairs. “When I was CM in 2018, I was presented with a dossier seeking approval for four amendments to the trust deed (of BMSET), which I rejected. In a note issued in January 2019, we had explained why BMSET cannot be treated as a private trust,” said the former chief minister of Karnataka.

Although he received several “offers” to approve the dossier appointing Pai as a life trustee, Kumaraswamy said he turned it down because his “signature was not for sale”.

BMSET was founded in 1957 by BS Narayan and runs several educational institutions in Bengaluru.

The move to appoint Pai as life manager was revived after the BJP came to power in Karnataka. In March 2021, COMEDK wrote to the government, citing irregularities in BMSET colleges. “Yet the Minister of Higher Education approved the amendment authorizing the donor administrator (Narayan’s second wife Ragini) to appoint a life administrator,” Kumaraswamy said. The life trustee can choose his/her successor.

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