The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday said it would prefer to wait till Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde presented his report on illegal mining activities in the State before making any comments.
Although Mr. Hegde had confirmed that Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa's name figured in connection with illegal mining, the BJP has adopted a wait-and-watch policy.
While party president Nitin Gadkari is out of the country and is expected to be back on Friday morning, sources close to him said: “Let us wait for the report to be submitted.”
BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar gave more than broad hints that the party could use legal loopholes to reject the allegations against the Chief Minister.
In response to a volley of questions from reporters, Mr. Javadekar side-stepped the Karnataka issue while referring to the Shunglu committee's indictment of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in connection with the Commonwealth Games and the Delhi Lokayukta's report against Minister Rajkumar Chauhan in the Tivoli Gardens case.
‘Congress must act'
“The Congress should first take action against Sheila Dikshit and Chauhan. We will respond appropriately, keeping the law and the Constitution in mind, after the Karnataka Lokayukta report is submitted,” he said. “We will respond within 24 hours of the submission of report.”
Party leaders pointed out that while the Lokayukta had certain powers under the act, the State government also had rights under the law. The government may accept or reject the Lokayukta's recommendations while giving reasons why it was doing so.
“We will respond point-by-point to the Lokayukta,” Mr. Javadekar said.
Last May, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said she had opposed the induction of the three Bellary brothers into the State Cabinet while making it clear she would not oppose any decision to drop them.
Ms. Swaraj added that Arun Jaitley — her counterpart in the Rajya Sabha — as in-charge of Karnataka, had a role to play in the State's Cabinet formation. She countered the “misinformation” campaign from within her party that she was the mentor of the Bellary brothers.
BJP insiders feel that not only will it be difficult for the party to get Mr. Yeddyurappa to resign, the Lokayukta report could open up a can of worms for the central leadership.
In fact, some party leaders said Ms. Swaraj had deliberately distanced herself from the Karnataka mess, as she feels that as and when the Lokayukta report is submitted, an attempt could be made from within the party to malign her, and prevent her from being considered as the party's prime ministerial candidate in 2014.
The BJP was asked why it did not wait for the submission of the Comptroller and Auditor General's report on the 2G scandal before demanding the resignation of the former Communications Minister, A. Raja, and why it demanded Home Minister P. Chidambaram's resignation for his alleged acts of omission as Finance Minister during United Progressive Alliance-I without waiting for any official report of indictment?
The BJP replied, “We had independent information about the scam other than news reports.”