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3 BJP ministers resign, oppn steps up attack

Bangalore: Caught on camera watching a sleazy video in the Karnataka Assembly, three BJP ministers resigned on Wednesday on orders from an embarrassed party leadership.

A red-faced BJP went into a damage control mode asking Minister for Cooperation Laxman Savadi and Minister for Women and Child Development C C Patil, to quit, while Minister for Ports, Science and Technology, Krishna Palemar was axed for allegedly providing the blue film to them. Savadi and Patil were caught on camera on Tuesday while they were viewing the porn video footage inside the state assembly during the proceedings, an incident that battered the image of the Sadananda Gowda Government and BJP, evoking widespread condemnation across the state.

“We don’t want the party and the government to face further embarrassment. All of us have decided to resign. We have handed over our resignation letters to Chief Minister with a request to accept it,” Savadi, Patil and Palemar told reporters.

The direction to the ministers to quit came after the BJP summoned the trio and told them to put in their papers at a meeting attended by top leaders including Gowda, state BJP President K S Eswarappa and former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa. The meeting took place close on the heels of BJP President Nitin Gadkari speaking to Gowda and Eswarappa and directing them to initiate action against the three ministers, party sources said.

The scandal rocked the Karnataka Assembly where the opposition Congress and JDS members sought suspension and disqualification of the three former Ministers involved in the episode from the House and their immediate arrest. As soon as the Assembly met, the Chief Minister informed the members about the resignations of the three ministers which have been accepted by Governor H R Bhardwaj.

Savadi said they would request Assembly Speaker K G Bopiah to institute an inquiry into the incident, asserting that they had done no wrong.

Training its guns on the BJP, Congress demanded that the three ministers should be arrested while asking the Assembly Speaker to suspend them. “They should be arrested,” Union Minister Veerappa Moily said, adding, “they have desecrated the sanctity of the Assembly”. Congress leader Kapil Sibal said, “Nowadays it appears that some of the BJP people are having all kinds of entertainment. Sometimes political entertainment, sometimes it is entertainment of other sorts”. BJP said it has set an example of high moral standards and probity in public life by asking the ministers to resign.

Gowda said the three ministers resigned to ensure that the opposition did not use the incident as a political weapon against BJP and to cause further embarrassment to it.

Opposition Congress leader in the state assembly, Siddaramaiah, said, “The BJP has several tainted ministers. There are people facing corruption charges and also criminal charges. They have no right to continue in power. It is better to go before the people and seek a fresh mandate.”

He said the Congress would move a resolution in the state assembly seeking suspension of the three BJP leaders. They would also demand their disqualification from the assembly membership, he said. Savadi and Patil blamed the media for blowing the incident “out of proportion”.

After meeting the party leaders, they described themselves as “loyal soldiers of the party” and said, “We do not want to further embarrass the government and the party… But we have not committed any crime”. With the exit of three more ministers, the list of BJP ministers in the first-ever BJP government in the South who quit under cloud in the last four years has grown to seven. The Lokayukta report on illegal mining had claimed the scalp of Yeddyurappa, who was also forced to demit office. Former minister S N Krishnaiah Setty had to resign from the Yeddyurappa ministry after he faced charges of land scam, followed by Katta Subramanya Naidu on similar allegations.

Allegations of rape forced H Halappa to quit as minister. The present row has brought down the strength of the Gowda ministry to 24, leaving 10 ministerial vacancies. (PTI)

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