In the wake of Karnataka Lokayukta’s indictment of Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa on the illegal mining issue, Congress on Thursday gunned for his removal, but a defensive BJP said the report had “lost sanctity” as it has been leaked.
Smelling blood, the Congress demanded the immediate resignation of the Yeddyurappa government, accusing it of sponsoring illegal mining in the State.
“All the time we have been saying that illegal mining is going on and the Chief Minister and his own Ministerial colleagues are involved,” Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President, G Parameshwara, told PTI.
“Now, the report says the government itself is involved”, he said.
Former Chief Minister and JDS state chief H D Kumaraswamy and Health Minister B Sriramulu, who have also been named in the report, said they were ready to face any inquiry.
“If I am named, I am not going to run away,” Mr. Kumaraswamy said, adding he is ready to face any kind of inquiry.
“Have I caused any loss to the state exchequer during my 20-month rule as Chief Minister? I am ready to give all information to the people,” he said.
Justice Hegde said he had given “substantive” and “voluminous” evidence against Mr. Yeddyurappa and others on illegal mining, which he termed a “huge racket” that had caused a loss of more than Rs 1,800 crore to the state exchequer in the last 14 months.
As the leaked Lokayukta report raised a political storm, Mr. Yeddyurappa is holidaying with his family in Mauritius.
Noting that some 600 officials have also been named in the report, Mr. Parameshwara said: “It means almost the Government is involved. Entire government, including Cabinet Ministers, Chief Minister and officials .....this is a government-sponsored illegal mining.”
“So there is no way that the Chief Minister should continue. He should immediately resign and dissolve the Cabinet. Let’s go before the people”, he said. Asked if the Congress is “smelling blood,” he said: “Yes. Certainly”.
Unfazed by the report, the ruling BJP said its leakage was a “shocking development which needs to be probed”.
BJP State unit President K S Eshwarappa said the party would spell out its stand once the Lokayukta submits its report to the Government.
“It should not have been leaked”, he said. “It’s a big shock. There should be inquiry into who is responsible for this (the leak)”, Mr. Eshwarappa said.
He termed the leak as a “shocking development”, and wondered how people can now have faith in the Lokayukta when the report of the investigating agency itself gets leaked.
Party spokesperson V Dhananjaya Kumar echoed his views, describing the leak as “serious”, and said there should be an enquiry. He said it’s the government’s prerogative to take “further action” once the report is submitted to it.
Speaking to reporters in the district headquarters town of Raichur, Mr. Sriramulu said he is ready to face any kind of probe. He said the Obulapuram Mining Company, of which he is a partner, has operations in Andhra Pradesh, not in Karnataka.