Bangalore: Three ministers in Karnataka – Laxman Savadi, J Krishna Palimar and CC Patil – on Wednesday resigned to save the party from embarrassment after they were caught watching porn on a cell phone in the state Assembly on Tuesday.
Top leaders of the red-faced party, including its chief Nitin Gadkari, had indicated yesterday itself that all those involved in the porngate would have to go.
The three ministers were also barred by Speaker KG
Bopaiah from attending proceedings of the Assembly till a
House inquiry committee submits report on March 12.
In his ruling, Bopaiah asked the three to give an
explanation by February 13 and their reply would be placed
before the proposed six-member inquiry committee, comprising
two members each from BJP, Congress and JDS.
Till then, the three are barred from attending the
Assembly, Bopaiah said in his order as the unsavoury episode
rocked the House and provided a fodder to the opposition to
take on the ruling party.
Speaking to the media, the ministers said they are quitting after Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda asked them to resign.
Governor HR Bhardwaj has accepted the resignation of the three ministers.
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 KS Eswarappa and former chief minister BS
The ministers were caught by cameras of private Kannada TV channels, which are allowed to telecast the Assembly proceedings, and the clippings were shown after the House adjourned for the day.
The clippings show Savadi, Cooperation Minister, intently watching the clipping and Patil, Minister for Women and Child Welfare, peeping for a few seconds and moving to apparently switch off the cell.
The two denied they were watching porn and claimed it was a clipping of a rape and murder scene in a foreign country which they saw in the light of controversy of a group of foreigners indulging in a sex act recently at a tourism promotion event near Udupi, about 400 km west of Bangalore.
The two dragged in a third colleague, Environment and Port Minister Palimar, saying the cell phone belonged to him.
The scandalous incident sent shock waves across the state, with the opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular and various other groups demanding their dismissal from the ministry and expulsion from the Assembly.
The incident took place when the Assembly was discussing a pro-Hindu group allegedly hoisting a Pakistani flag in North Karnataka recently.
This was the second incident involving sex and a BJP minister in Karnataka where the party came to power for the first time in May 2008.
In May 2010, food and civil supplies minister Haratalu Halappa was forced to quit after he was accused of raping his friend`s wife in Shimoga, about 280 km north of Bangalore.
Earlier, another BJP legislator, MP Renukacharya, now Excise Minister, had been accused by a nurse of sexually harassing her. The nurse, Jayalakshmi, had released to the media photos of Renukacharya kissing her, and claimed they had been taken after threatening her.
Groups of pro-Kannada activists took to streets in Bangalore, Mysore in south, Dharwad and Shimoga in the north and at several other places demanding immediate sacking of Savadi and Patil.
In Bangalore, stones were hurled at Savadi`s ministerial bungalow by a pro-Kannada group which was later chased away by police.
This is the first major embarrassment for Gowda in his six months in office, which he assumed under another ugly development in BJP`s short history of rule in the only southern Indian state.
The BJP came to power in May 2008 and its first chief minister BS Yeddyurappa was forced to quit on July 31 last year following corruption charges.
(With IANS inputs)