Bangalore: Three BJP ministers in Karnataka, who were caught on camera watching porn on mobile phone during assembly proceedings, resigned today following orders from an embarrassed party leadership.
Going into a swift damage control mode, the party asked Minister for Cooperation Laxman Savadi and Minister for Women and Child Development C C Patil, to quit, while Minister for Ports, Science and Technology, Krishna Palemar was axed for allegedly providing the blue film to his colleagues to watch.
“We don’t want the party and the government to face further embarrassment. All of us have decided to resign. We have handed over our resignation letters to Chief Minister with a request to accept it,” Savadi, Patil and Palemar told reporters.
Savadi said they would request the Assembly Speaker K G Bopiah to institute an inquiry into the incident, asserting that they had done no wrong.
Immediately after receiving the resignations of the tainted ministers, Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda announced he has forwarded them to Governor H R Bhardwaj, who accepted them.
As the episode, unprecedented in nature in the state’s legislative history became a full blown controversy, the opposition parties demanded the resignation of the three ministers and parts of the state also witnessed protests.
The direction to the ministers to quit came after the BJP summoned the trio and told them to put in their papers at a meeting attended by top leaders including Sadananda Gowda, state BJP President K S Eswarappa and former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa.
As the episode came into national limelight, BJP President Nitin Gadkari spoke to Gowda and Eswarappa and directed them to initiate action against the three ministers, party sources said.
Training its guns on the BJP, Congress demanded that the three ministers should be arrested while asking the Assembly Speaker to suspend them.
“They should be arrested,” Union Minister Veerappa Moily said, adding, “they have desecrated the sanctity of the Assembly”.
BJP said it has set an example of high moral standards and probity in public life by asking the ministers to resign.
“The BJP high command took this decision of asking the three ministers, against whom the allegations were made, to submit their resignation,” Dhananjay Kumar told reporters.
Gowda said the three ministers resigned to ensure that the opposition did not use the incident as a political weapon against BJP and to cause further embarrassment to the government.
He said the three ministers had also sought a probe into the issue as they maintain that they only watched a clipping that was sent to their mobile and were confident of proving their innocence.
Savadi and Patil blamed the media for blowing the incident “out of proportions”.
After meeting the party leaders, they described themselves as “loyal soldiers of the party” and said, “We do not want to further embarrass the government and the party… But we have not committed any crime”.
In Delhi, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said, “The ministers have come under cloud, now they have submitted their resignation and they have submitted themselves to be investigated by any competent authority. Congress had to explain on Raj Bhavan being misused on such shameless acts. The allegation will be investigated, if it has happened, it is worrying.”
Congress leader Kapil Sibal said, “Nowadays it appears that some of the BJP people are having all kinds of entertainment. Sometimes political entertainment, sometimes it is entertainment of other sorts”.
In another development, Palemar denied that it he gave the porno video clippings to Savadi.
“I don’t have the habit of watching such things. Let there be a probe into it. I decided to resign on my own. There was no pressure from the party,” he told reporters.
Savadi had said yesterday that the video clipping he watched inside the state assembly had been sent to him by Palemar on a rave party.
Former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa said some inquiry should be conducted by the Speaker as early as possible so that the truth can come out.
With the exit of three more ministers, the list of BJP ministers in the first-ever BJP government in the South who quit under cloud in the last four years has grown to seven.
The Lokayukta report on illegal mining had claimed the scalp of Yeddyurappa, who was also forced to demit office following his indictment in its findings.
Former minister S N Krishnaiah Setty had to resign from the Yeddyurappa ministry after he faced charges of land scam, followed by Katta Subramanya Naidu on similar allegations.
Allegations of rape forced H Halappa to quit as minister.
The present row has brought down the strength of the Gowda ministry to 24, leaving ministerial ten vacancies.
The BJP took the acts of the three ministers seriously as the ugly episode has come at a time when the party is in the midst of assembly elections in five states.