K`taka mining issue reaches PM; assembly paralysed

Karnataka Governor Wednesday evening briefed Prime Minister on the illegal mining issue in the state that has paralysed the assembly since Monday.

Bangalore/New Delhi: Karnataka Governor H.R. Bhardwaj Wednesday evening briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the illegal mining issue in the state that has paralysed the assembly since Monday with the opposition insisting on a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the alleged multi-billion rupee scandal.

As Bhardwaj, former union law minister, apprised Manmohan Singh in New Delhi, opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) legislators held a joint meeting in Bangalore and decided to continue their 24-hour sit-in in the assembly till the Bharatiya Janata Party government agrees to hand over the investigation to the CBI.

"There is no change in our stand. Dharna will continue till our demand is me," Leader of Opposition in the assembly Siddaramaiah of the Congress told reporters after the meeting.

Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa also stuck to his stand, rejecting the CBI probe and having the scandal investigated by the state Lok Ayukta (ombudsman) N. Santosh Hegde, a retired Supreme Court judge.

Hegde`s resignation June 23 citing government`s indifference to the fight corruption and check illegal mining triggered the present crisis for the two-year-old first BJP government in Karnataka and south India.

Hegde has since withdrawn resignation after an appeal by senior BJP leader L.K. Advani.

Bhardwaj`s meeting with the prime minister was preceded by his discussion on the situation in Karnataka with union Home Minister P. Chidambaram.

The Governor had briefed President Pratibha Patil Tuesday.

The 25-day assembly session began Jun 28 and is to approve demands for 27 departments and appropriation bills.

Bhardwaj taking the illegal mining issue to the central government has angered BJP central leaders also who have accused him of acting as a Congress "agent" attempting to "destabilise" the party`s first government in south India.

Congress and JD-S legislators will spend Wednesday night also in the assembly, their third night stay in the house.


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