BJP moves to pre-empt Bhardwaj on Yeddyurappas prosecution

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

BANGALORE - The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Karnataka Wednesday launched a campaign to pre-empt Governor H.R. Bhardwaj from granting sanction to prosecute Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa over land scams.

With Bhardwaj telling Yeddyurappa that he would accord sanction after Jan 26, the chief minister wrote a letter opposing the move and the state cabinet Wednesday followed it up with a “unanimous” resolution supporting him.

Your Excellencys action of consideration of the request for sanction will not inspire confidence that the decision would be judicious, fair and bonafide, said the cabinet resolution read out to reporters by state Law Minister S. Suresh Kumar.

Kumar said the resolution was adopted on the basis of Yeddyurappas letter to Bhardwaj.

Yeddyurappa, the BJPs first chief minister in south India, is facing charges of favouring his sons, daughter, son-in-law, sister, her daughter and son-in-law with prime residential and commercial land in and around Bangalore.

Yeddyurappa has since made his kin surrender the land and ordered a judicial probe into land allotment from 1995 to November 2010.

The period covers the rule of six chief ministers, including Yeddyurappa who took over in May 2008. The judicial probe is headed by retired Karnataka High Court judge B. Padmaraja.

The cabinet met for the second time in two days Wednesday after Yeddyurappas visit to New Delhi Tuesday for talks with senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley.

Kumar said Bhardwaj had “categorically told the chief minister on Dec 31 that he would grant sanction for prosecution sought by two Bangalore advocates after the Republic Day.

On Jan 3, Bhardwajs office wrote to state Chief Secretary S.V. Ranganath, seeking documents in 93 cases before Jan 20, Kumar said, indirectly pointing that the governor had made up his mind to accord sanction even before calling for the records.

The advocates, Sirajin Bhasha and K.N. Balakrishna, submitted documents running into 1,700 pages to Bhardwaj Dec 28 and claimed the papers establish over 100 cases of nepotism, misconduct and corruption by Yeddyurappa, his two sons and some cabinet colleagues.

They sought Bhardwajs sanction to prosecute Yeddyurappa and Home and Transport Minister R. Ashoka.

On Tuesday, Bhardwaj said “it is ticklish issue” and that he was going through the documents and would take a decision without delay.

Kumar said the cabinet noted that neither Yeddyurappa nor Ashoka had been indicted by any investigating agency or enquiry commission, necessitating the governor to sanction their prosecution.

So, the intended exercise by the governor to process the plea for sanction is wholly without jurisdiction, Kumar said.

Kumar said if the governor sanctions prosecution, that would mean a third investigation into the same charges as the Lok Ayukta (ombudsman) and the Padmaraja Commission were already probing the allegations against Yeddyurappa.

Also, the high court was hearing a petition on who should conduct the probe - Lok Ayukta or the Padmaraja Commission. Hence, the matter was also sub-judice, Kumar said.

He said the cabinet did not discuss approaching President Pratibha Patil to recall Bhardwaj, a demand often made by state BJP leaders.

Later, Yeddyurappa also denied the cabinet was planning to urge President Patil to recall Bhardwaj, who has frequently criticised the state government.

“We have only urged the governor not to proceed with considering the request for sanction for prosecution,” he said.

But Yeddyurappa said BJP MPs from the state planned to meet Patil and the party’s central leaders soon. The BJP MPs have decided to meet Patil in New Delhi soon to urge her to remove Bhardwaj as Karnataka governor.

Karnataka BJP leaders often call Bhardwaj a “Congress agent”. Bhardwaj, a long time Congress member, was union law minister in the first United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government between 2004-09.

Bhardwajs retort to BJP leaders is I am proud to be a Congressman and I remain Congressman.

Filed under: Politics

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