Former Chief Minister and Karnataka unit BJP President B S Yeddyurappa has returned a Rs 1.15 crore swanky SUV given to him by a former minister and loyalist to tour the state, after questions were raised about its propriety.
Yeddyurappa said he will tour the state by train.
"Handling the proposed state tour in the same manner is not an issue at all for me. Hence, I have sent back the car provided by Sri Murugesh Nirani yesterday to his residence," he said in a press statement here today.
The Toyota Land Cruiser Prado provided by Nirani, a sugar baron, stirred a hornet's nest after reports that the seven-seater luxury vehicle would be used by Yeddyurappa to travel around the drought-hit parts, evoking sharp criticism.
The former Chief Minister said Nirani had given the SUV for temporary usage to travel to the drought-affected areas and handle party-related travel.
Earlier, Yeddyurappa had sought to put a lid on the controversy, saying Nirani had given the SUV to him for party work and "after that, he will take back the car."
Nirani had also defended his gesture, saying the SUV was not a gift and Yeddyurappa could use it as long as he wants.
The vehicle was being given considering that Yeddyurappa has to travel extensively as state BJP chief and his age is 73 years.
Nirani had said the SUV was in the name of his company and he had purchased it through loan.
BJP has already announced Yeddyurappa's itinerary of visiting drought-hit areas in the districts of Bidar, Kalaburagi, Raichur and Vijayapura from April 27 to May 1.
Yeddyurappa, who was compelled to quit over graft charges in 2011, was recently appointed the state BJP president to revive the fortunes of the party, after he was cleared by the court in most of the corruption-related cases.
A combative leader who is projected as pro-farmers, Yeddyurappa has set a target of winning 150 of the 224 Assembly seats in the 2018 polls.
The controversy comes close on the heels of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah landing in a row over a gifted Rs 70 lakh diamond-studded Hublot watch that he wore before he handed it over to the state in the wake of a political storm over it.