Pandemonium broke out in Karnataka Assembly today after the Opposition raised the issue of alleged illegal mining scam leading to adjournment of the House for the day.
“I apologise to the people of Karnataka that I am not able to conduct the business,” Speaker K G Bopaiah said adjourning the Assembly to meet tomorrow, shortly after it met this morning with Opposition Congress and JDS continuing their indefinite dharna in the House demanding CBI probe into the mining scam.
Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa said Lokayukta was already probing the issue of illegal mining since 2002-03 and has “full powers” to conduct investigation in this regard.
“Let’s wait for the Lokayukta’s report”, he said, adding, ordering a CBI inquiry would lead to “delay” as the Lokayukta was already on the job.
He sought to turn the tables on the Opposition saying.
“There is suspicion the Opposition is demanding CBI probe to bury the issue (mining scam) as mostly it’s the Congress and JDS leaders who are involved (in illegal mining and exports).”
Yeddyurappa asked why the then Chief Ministers S M Krishna and H D Deve Gowda chose not to order CBI investigation (whenever the then opposition demanded such probes).”
Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah (Congress) said the loss to the state exchequer due to the scam was to the tune of Rs 20,000 crore.
He then started accusing the ruling BJP government in the state of not doing anything for those affected by the floods last year, which was objected to by the Chief Minister.
As Siddaramaiah protested there were “attempts to curtail” his speech by ruling party members who were on their toes shouting anti-Opposition slogans, leading to din in the House as the Speaker adjourned it for the day.
“He is the ‘goonda’ Chief Minister. He cajoled ruling party MLAs to silence us. Only fascists can do like this,” a combative Siddaramaiah, who appeared visibly upset at the abrupt adjournment, told reporters later.
“He (Yeddyurappa) is not handing over the probe to CBI as he is scared of Bellary brothers (Tourism Minister G Janardhana Reddy and Revenue Minister G Karunakara Reddy). He wants to save his chair. My inference is that Yeddyurappa has totally colluded with them,” he said. “Even today illegal mining is taking place in Bellary.”
Sticking to its stand, the government reiterated it would not order a CBI probe as Home Minister V S Acharya accused the Opposition of being “obsessed with CBI.”
“We have seen how CBI functions,” Acharya told reporters after the Legislative Council was adjourned for the day as the opposition continued its dharna, disrupting the proceedings for the third straight day.
He asked why the then Home Minister M Mallikarjuna Kharge rejected the demand of the then Opposition for a CBI probe into the multi-crore fake stamp paper racket when the Congress was in power in the state.
He also referred to other cases in the past where the then Congress government had turned down similar demands.
The Opposition members continued their dharna overnight seeking to mount pressure on the government to concede their demand for CBI probe. They spent their second straight night on the premises of the Assembly — sleeping inside the House and in the lobby — as the issue snowballed.
JDS leader H D Revanna, who is the son of former Prime Minister H D Devegowda, described the plundering of iron ore in the past seven years as a “Rs 20,000 crore scam.”