Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa has ordered an inquiry by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) into the charge of rape made against Sorab MLA and former Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister Hartalu Halappa by a financier from Shimoga and his wife, the alleged victim.

Soon after his arrival in Bangalore on Monday, the Chief Minister was briefed at the airport by Director-General and Inspector-General of Police Ajai Kumar Singh.

The DG and IGP told The Hindu that the Shimoga police would register the case and thereafter hand it over to the CID. The episode, which has shaken the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has exposed the factionalism within the party as leaders are speaking in different voices on the issue.

Law to take its course

Home Minister V.S. Acharya on Monday said that the police would take action against the former Minister according to the law.

Addressing presspersons here on Monday, Dr. Acharya said, “We will not pre-empt or sidetrack the issue.” He said that no favours would be shown to Mr. Halappa. “The law will take its own course.”

Asked why the party had not taken action against the Minister even though the incident occurred five months ago, he said that for the past few days there had been a “whisper campaign” but no complaint was filed by the couple who made the charge.

President of the State unit of the BJP K.S. Eshwarappa, however, rallied around Mr. Halappa and gave him a clean chit. “Just wait and see. The probe ordered against Mr. Halappa will definitely conclude that he is not guilty,” Mr. Eshwarappa told presspersons after a meeting convened by the party in Bangalore to take stock of preparations for the Legislative Council election from the South Graduates constituency. Pointing to inconsistencies in the allegations made by the couple, he asked: “Will a husband record his wife being raped? Wouldn't he have thrashed the man first?”

Party insiders are less sure. Even if Mr. Halappa is absolved of the rape charge, he cannot escape from the allegations of “transgressing morality,” a senior party source told The Hindu. Mr. Halappa was never known for efficient administration of his portfolio, the source pointed out. In fact, the former Minister had consistently drawn flak from the Opposition for not being able to provide convincing replies to questions relating to his portfolio during the legislature sessions.