Karnataka Minister resigns; faces rape charge

The BJP Government in Karnataka was today hit by a sex scandal when a minister resigned following an allegation of rape made by the wife of his friend.

After filing the complaint at the DGP`s residence, the
woman`s husband Venkatesh Murthy said the police chief assured
that an inquiry would be conducted.

"He (Halappa) has done a bad thing. He should be
punished. It (the entire episode) should not become an
entertainment for the people," Murthy said while his wife
alleged that Halappa had threatened to kidnap their children.

Murthy also alleged Halappa held out a threat to their
life and added they did not file the complaint in Shimoga as
they feared it might be "dumped" due to "political pressure".

Earlier, Halappa rubbished the media report, dubbing it
"baseless and untrue" and saw a political conspiracy by
opponents, including some from his own ruling party, behind
the alleged incident four months ago.

"There is no truth in it. I am being targeted. I am
quitting on moral grounds. I don`t want to embarrass my party,
partymen and the government. Let them come out with evidence
to prove the charge," he told reporters.

Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa said he had accepted the
resignation, adding the minister insisted on quitting to not
allow the opposition parties to "capitalise" on the report
ahead of the Panchayat elections on May eight and May 12.

Yeddyurappa described the media report to journalists in
Belgaum as a political conspiracy and virtually gave a clean
chit to Halappa saying he was a loyal partyman and a "satvik"
(noble) person, who has not faced any allegation in his life.

"Prima facie, there appears to be no truth in the
allegations. I told him not to take a hasty decision but he
forced me to accept his resignation saying he does not want to
embarrass the party, and he wants to clear his name."

The newspaper report, which did not name the Cabinet
Minister but left no one in doubt as to who it was referring
to, alleged that he came to one of his friends` residence for
dinner and thereafter chose to spend the night there.

At around midnight, the report claimed, the Minister said
he was feeling uncomfortable and told his friend to bring
medicine for him from his security staff who were staying at
inspection bungalow.

The report claimed that on his return after not finding
any security personnel, the friend saw his wife sobbing and
alleging that she had been "sexually assaulted".

The opposition Congress demanded the resignation of Chief
Minister and the arrest of Halappa.

President of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee R V
Deshpande, who chaired an emergent meeting, sought a CBI probe
into the alleged episode.

Yeddyurappa said Transport Minister R Ashoka would hold
additional charge of the department of Food and Civil


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