Bangalore: Hitting out strongly against Karnataka Governor for giving sanction to prosecute him for his alleged involvement in land scams, Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa termed HR Bhardwaj a “rank agent of the Congress party”. Yeddyurappa’s statement followed BJP’s party men and supporters taking to the streets in violent protests, leading to a showdown between the Chief Minister and the Governor reaching a new crescendo.
“The Governor’s decision is a conspiracy to topple an elected government. It will go down in the country’s history as a bad precedent,” Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa said, addressing a hurriedly called press conference here.
A combative Yeddyurappa ruled out his resignation over the grant of sanction for his prosecution by Governor.
"If somebody gives a complaint (against a Chief Minister) in India.... has anybody in the history of any state or India resigned. Why should I quit," he said, asserting that he would prove his innocence by fighting "politically and legally".
Yeddyurappa charged the Governor with lowering the "dignity" of the office, over-reaching his Constitutional role, discharging his duties unbecoming of his office and "acting in a hasty manner".
“The Governor, despite being a constitutional head has crossed all limits of the Constitution. He is persistently misusing his position and power to score brownie points for the Congress party,” said Yeddyurappa, who is battling allegations of a multi-crore land scam.
Striking an aggressive posture, Yeddyurappa dubbed the Governor`s action as "unconstitutional" and "malafide" and alleged that Bhardwaj took the decision in collusion with Congress and JD(S).
“Ever since he became the Governor, Bhardwaj didn`t offer one good suggestion for the development of the State; he always tried to embarrass the Government, corner it, behaved irresponsibly" and repeatedly raised issues of insignificance", Yeddyurappa alleged.
Seeking to invoke the `pride` of Karnataka, Yeddyurappa accused Bhardwaj of having hurt the sentiments of the people of the state by his remarks against his government.
"The Governor calling the Chief Minister of the State as a thief complaining against the police has hurt the sentiments of the people and the pride of Karnataka", he said.
BJP held protests all over the state denouncing the sanction for prosecution and demanded recall of Bhardwaj. The Chief Minister justified a bandh called by the BJP against Governor’s decision and called it "self-initiated", "voluntary" and “people’s reaction”. “I thank the people who observed the bandh,” he added.
The bandh, described by the BJP as "near total", was marked by several violent incidents. Stone pelting on shops and buses was reported from places such as Belgaum, Gulbarga, Shimoga and Bangalore.
The Governor`s action fuelled a political slugfest between the Congress and BJP. The saffron party demanded an immediate recall of Bhardwaj.
Coming under attack from BJP, the Governor justified his action saying there was a "prima facie" case against the Chief Minister in the petition filed by two lawyers in alleged land scams and corruption charges.
Meanwhile, a complaint was filed in a city court in a local court in Bangalore against Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa following Governor`s sanction for his prosecution in the alleged land scams. The complaint was filed by advocate Siranjan Basha who, along with another lawyer K N Balaraj, had petitioned the Governor.
The matter would come up for hearing on January 24 before Additional City Civil Judge C Hipparagi who is also the Sessions and the Special Judge for Lokayukta. The saffron party is now bracing itself for a legal battle against the controversial move.
While the two complaints listed out three offences each, four more complaints listing 12 more charges would be filed on Monday before the court, CH Hanumantha Raya, senior counsel for the two lawyers said.
"In all, six complaints listing 18 crimes will be filed," he said.
The offences listed were under various IPC sections, including 405 (criminal breach of trust), 406 (punishment for criminal breach of trust) 420 (cheating) and 463 (forgery) as well as section 13 i (d) and 13 (2) of Prevention of Corruption Act.
The complaints also listed Section 3 and 4 under the Karnataka Land Restriction of Transfer Act, 1991. All this would have to be read with IPC 120(b) (Punishment for criminal conspiracy), Raya said.
State Law Minister Suresh Kumar said the Chief Minister was likely to move the High Court on January 24 challenging Bhardwaj`s sanction.
The Governor gave permission, on Friday night, to launch criminal proceedings against Yeddyurappa, as sought by two Bangalore-based advocates, Sirajin Basha and KN Balaraj, over revelations that the Chief Minister had favoured his close kin with prime land in and around Bangalore.