Central government backs Bhardwaj, slams Yeddyurappa (Second Lead)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI/BANGALORE - The central government Saturday backed Karnataka Governor H.R. Bhardwaj for his controversial step in sanctioning Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa’s prosecution on corruption charges as it slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the violence unleashed by its cadres during a 12-hour shutdown in the state.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram flayed the BJP for taking to the streets to protest Bhardwaj’s order and said he was “disappointed that the BJP has raised the decibel level and has taken to the streets This is not correct and is totally unacceptable.”

Defending Bhardwaj, the home minister said the central government had taken note of the developments in Karnataka and it was not a unique case when a governor has sanctioned a chief minister’s prosecution.

“It is not the first time that a governor has given his sanction to prosecute a chief minister or a minister. The law in this respect is clear and well-settled,” Chidambaram said in Delhi.

The home minister in his statement recalled the statement of Karnataka Lok Ayukta Santosh Hegde, who observed that the governor had the jurisdiction to grant sanction for prosecution.

Speaking in a similar tone in Mumbai, union Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily said Governor Bhardwaj was well within his authority to sanction the chief minister’s prosecution as the alleged corruption and nepotism charges against Yeddyurappa are “on record”.

“Corruption is on record, nepotism is on record. There is a rule of law in the country. Nobody is above rule of law. Rule of law applies to all,” Moily told reporters, adding chief ministers don’t enjoy immunity from the law.

The law minister attacked the ruling BJP in the state for resorting to violence to enforce the shutdown during which activists torched buses, pelted stones and attacked shops across Karnataka.

“They (BJP) are defending the corruption at the highest level,” he said.

Chidambaram said the state government was obliged to maintain law and order in the wake of the BJP-sponsored shutdown and “not to stand by when law and order is disrupted by party cadres or there are acts of violence”.

He said any person aggrieved by the order of the governor could seek legal remedies.

The governor gave permission Friday night to launch criminal proceedings against Yeddyurappa, as sought by two Bangalore-based advocates, Sirajin Basha and K.N. Balaraj, over revelations that the chief minister had favoured his close kin with prime land in and around Bangalore.

Angry over the governor’s order which the BJP termed as a conspiracy “to dislodge a popular government”, hundreds of party activists enforced the shutdown by burning buses and stoning shops to protest Bhardwaj’s sanction.

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