Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is now under close watch over his wrist watch. Former chief minister and his arch rival HD Kumaraswamy has alleged that Siddaramaiah wears a watch worth Rs 70 lakh. Addressing an election meeting he said, "Siddaramaiah calls himself a socialist. But, he wears a foreign watch worth Rs 70 lakh and his shade costs another Rs 5 lakh."
Reacting to the same, Siddaramaiah said that he is willing to give both his watch and shades to Kumaraswamy for just Rs 5 lakh. Speaking to media, he said "Kumaraswamy has no credibility. He believes in hit and run politics. His charges are utterly baseless. I did not buy this watch. A friend gifted it to me."
Kumaraswamy is yet to react to Siddaramaiah's offer of giving him his watch and shades. The main opposition BJP has also joined the debate after the issue became a talk of the town across Karnataka. Union Law minister and another former chief minister DV Sadananda Gowda has also attacked Siddaramaiah calling him a 'luxury' chief minister.
Addressing an assembly by-poll meeting in Hebbal constituency of Bangalore, Sadananda Gowda said, "Even if Siddaramaiah auctions himself, nobody will buy him. Forget buying his watch and shades for Rs 5 lakhs. He is a worthless man".
Siddaramaiah is yet to react to Gowda's statement. According to Siddaramaiah's personal aides he has two watches – One Rolex and One Hublot. They claim that nobody knows the actual price of these two watches.
The costly foreign watches have created problems for Karnataka politicians even in the past. As far back as early 1980s, a minister in the erstwhile Gundurao government had to quit his post over a Rolex watch. Former Union minister CM Ibrahim had bragged about his Rolex watch gifted to him by a minister in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at a public meeting. When it became a big issue, he was forced to resign from the state Cabinet.
He later went on to become a Union minister in the Gowda and Gujral governments at the Centre. He is very close to Siddaramaiah and currently deputy chairman of Karnataka State Planning Board.
Two other former chief ministers BS Yeddyurappa and S M Krishna are also fond of expensive watches and often sport them in public.