Belagavi: The opposition BJP on Friday persisted with its demand for the resignation of three ministers who are being investigated by the Lokayukta for alleged wrongdoing.
The BJP’s rigid stand that the ministers—Dinesh Gundu Rao, Qamarul Islam and H S Mahadev Prasad—should not continue in office paralysed the official business of the legislature, forcing the chairs to adjourn the Houses until Saturday. While the BJP staged a dharna, the JD(S) kept off the issue.
The BJP vehemently argued that since the ministers were occupying positions in the government, there were likely to “influence” the Lokayukta investigation against them. While Chief Minister Siddaramaiah unsuccessfully tried to make a statement in the Council, Rao dared the BJP leader K S Eshwarappa to show guts for the discussion as he also faced chares of corruption. No minister in the erstwhile BJP government had resigned though FIRs were filed against them, he said.
In the Legislative Assembly, Leader of Opposition Jagadish Shettar argued that the BJP should be allowed to move a privilege motion against the ministers. Rao has been accused of encroaching upon 10 acres of government land. The government must not protect the “corrupt” ministers, he said in a raised voice.
But before Shettar could make a preliminary submission on the adjournment motion, Law Minister T B Jayachandra raised an objection, arguing that the cases against the ministers were sub judice and hence discussing them would be “inappropriate”. He went on to argue on technical grounds, saying what the Lokayukta was investigating was old cases.
However, Shettar stated amid the din that the Yelahanka tahsildar had named Rao an accused in the encroachment of 10 acres of land, while Islam had “encroached upon” eight acres of land elsewhere. Besides, an FIR has been filed with the Lokayukta against Prasad in a matter related to a site, he pointed out. But no case is pending against Rao as the investigation has been completed, he argued.
Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa outrightly rejected the BJP’s demand and ruled that the cases were pending before the Lokayukta and as per rules, it was not possible to allow the discussion. The BJP members, however, kept raising slogans against the three ministers. Finally, the Speaker adjourned the House as there was no meeting point between the ruling party and the BJP.
In the Legislative Council, the scenes were not different. The BJP renewed its dharna over the “tainted” ministers. Chaos was the order of the day with the Congress and BJP members engaging in a war of words.
The BJP’s Go Madhusudhan argued that the Chairman, D H Shankaramurthy, should allow a discussion on the encroachment of Wakf property involving Qamarul Islam. In the past, the Council had discussed the scams involving G Janardhana Reddy and B S Yeddyurappa, and the Cauvery Tribunal award even though the matters were pending in court, he argued.
The Congress members stressed that there should not be any debate as the Chairman had already ruled that the subjects, being sub judice, could not be discussed. The BJP government’s 17 ministers had faced cases and seven of them even went to jail. The BJP has no moral right to pontificate on corruption, they said.
But the BJP refused to accept the Chairman’s statement that he would consult the Additional Advocate General to decide the merit of the Congress’ argument. As chaos reigned, the House was adjourned.