Karnataka Home Minister won't quit over land grab
Bangalore: Karnataka Home Minister R Ashoka on Friday rejected the opposition's demand that he resign after a court ordered the police to probe land grab charges against him.
"It is natural for the opposition to demand resignation. They have done it a thousand times so far," he told reporters here.
Ashoka asserted that his continuing to be home minister would not hamper the police probe into the charges. "I will cooperate fully," he said.
The opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) are seeking his resignation following Thursday's special Lokayukta court judge NK Sudhindra Rao's order to police to probe the charges and submit a report by Nov 5.
Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda declined comment on the court order and also on the opposition's demand.
"My stand is that we should not comment on court cases," he told reporters here.
Soon after the court order, leader of opposition Siddaramaiah of the Congress told reporters: "He (Ashoka) is the home minister. How can a fair probe take place as long as he remains minister."
JD-S spokesperson YSV Datta too demanded that Ashoka resign to provide a free hand to the police to probe the charges.
Ashoka is accused of getting over half-an-acre of government land denotified in 2009 and acquiring it at hugely less than the market price. This is alleged to have caused the state a loss of around Rs 50 crore.
Ashoka is the prime accused in the case with BS Yeddyurappa who was chief minister in 2009.
The case has been filed by Jayakumar Hiremath, a Bangalore resident who claims he is a social activist. Hiremath has charged that the land in Lottegollahalli in north Bangalore was acquired by the government's Bangalore Development Authority in 1992.
However, Ashoka "forced" the owners of the land to seek denotification, "pressured" Yeddyurappa to denotify and bought it at a price hugely less than the market rate.
A similar case had been filed in the Lokayukta court by another Bangalore resident, Manjunath, last year. The court had ordered police to probe but Ashoka challenged it in the high court. The case collapsed as Manjunath withdrew the complaint.