New Delhi/Bangalore: Karnataka Governor H R
Bhardwaj today asked for removal of the controversial Reddy
brothers from the state ministry on allegations of "illegal
mining", a demand that riled the BJP which hit back at him
saying he was acting as a "rank agent" of Congress.
The issue, which has already rocked the Karnataka
legislature for the last two days, escalated into a full scale
war between the BJP and the Congress. The Reddy brothers also
threatened to take legal action against the Governor for his
remarks against them.
Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa ruled out a CBI inquiry
into the allegations of illegal mining by the Bellary
brothers--Tourism Minister G Janardhana Reddy and Revenue
Minister G Karunakara Reddy and offered to get it investigated
by the state Lok Ayukta.
After a meeting with President Pratibha Patil, Bhardwaj
told reporters in Delhi that he has asked the Chief Minister
to take action against the two ministers. Without taking
their names he questioned their continuance in the ministry.
"He (Chief Minister) is a person who realises the
problem. I told him you have appointed them as ministers.
Take action against them. He says I need time. He doesn`t
say it is not happening," the Governor said.
"The controversy is regarding only four or five ministers over their involvement in illegal mining. Ministers cannot indulge in this kind of corrupt practices. How can they be ministers?," he said.
He said he has taken serious note of the issue and has
told the Chief Minister of his concern and to the Central
"It is whether ministers can indulge in this kind of
corrupt practices. Whether they can continue as ministers and
will continue to do illegal mining and make profits. It is a
big issue of integrity and probity of holders of high office,"
he said in remarks that angered the BJP.
Suggesting a CBI inquiry into the allegations of
illegal mining, he said he would meet Home Minister P
Chidambaram tomorrow and apprise him of the latest situation.
The Reddy brothers said they plan to drag Governor H.R. Bhardwaj to court over his statement. "If he has said it, we will take legal action," Revenue Minister G. Karunakara Reddy, one of the three Reddy brothers, told reporters in Bangalore.
The BJP was quick to unleash an attack on Bhardwaj, a
former Law Minister at the Centre, and called him a "rank
agent" of the Congress.
BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said Bhardwaj
should decide whether to uphold the sanctity of the
constitutional office or act as an agent of the Congress.
"We deeply regret that the Raj Bhawan in Karnataka is
becoming an instrument to bring Congress into power in the
state through the backdoor," he said.
The BJP said Bhardwaj had no right to speak about
probity in public life. "If he is interested in rooting out
corruption, he should start with his campaign in the Central
government first," its spokesperson said.
In Bangalore, JD-S president H.D. Deve Gowda went to the assembly, which he had not entered since 1996 when he was catapulted to the post of Prime Minister from chief minister, to express support to both his party and the Congress members` protest.
The Congress claims the illegal mining and export scam amounts to Rs. 600 billion and insists that only a CBI probe can unravel the dimension and the people behind it.
For the second day today, the assembly was adjourned soon after it met with Congress and JD-S members raising slogans "We want CBI probe, we want justice".
They spent the day in the house or in the lobbies having idli or dosa for breakfast, mutton biryani or a vegetable lunch, singing folk songs and dozing off in-between on chairs and sofas.
On Monday night they had blankets, bedspreads, pullovers and mufflers ferried from their residences or legislators home to beat the cold in the air-conditioned wood-panelled assembly hall in the stately Vidhana Soudha (state secretariat) in the heart of Bangalore.