Decision follows charges of sexual misconduct against him
The Bharatiya Janata Party Government on Sunday received a jolt when Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister H. Halappa, a close lieutenant of Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, resigned following a report in a Kannada daily alleging sexual misconduct on his part with the wife of his financier-friend in Shimoga. The incident reportedly took place a few months ago.
Mr. Yeddyurappa announced in Belgaum that he had accepted the resignation.
Mr. Halappa made the announcement at a hurriedly called press conference at his residence here, even though the news report in question did not name him, the victim, or her husband. Meanwhile, Transport Minister R. Ashok has been given additional charge of the Ministry. “The Governor's approval of the resignation has been received,” said an aide of the Chief Minister. Mr. Halappa denied the allegation and said he was resigning to save Mr. Yeddyurappa, the Government and the BJP any embarrassment, especially with the gram panchayat elections around the corner. Asked why he was resigning when there was no formal complaint against him, nor had the report named him, Mr. Halappa said there were enough hints in the report that pointed to him. Mr. Halappa, a three-time MLA for Sorab in Shimoga district, the home district of both Mr. Yeddyurappa and State BJP president K.S. Eshwarappa, alleged that some people “including a few BJP leaders” had “conspired” against him. He said he would seek Mr. Yeddyurappa's advice on whether an inquiry could be ordered to unearth the conspiracy. He also denied the existence of any financier-friend.
Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president R.V. Deshpande, Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Siddaramaiah, KPCC spokesman V.S. Ugrappa, and former Minister Rani Satish demanded a criminal case/investigation against Mr. Halappa, as well as his arrest. Ms. Satish said that he put in his papers only because he was guilty.
Mr. Deshpande said the police had become “subservient to powerful individuals” and the case should be entrusted to the Central Bureau of Investigation as it involved a Minister.
Meanwhile, former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (S) chief H.D. Deve Gowda welcomed Mr. Halappa's resignation. When his attention was drawn to the swiftness with which Mr. Halappa's resignation was accepted, unlike the long-standing demand for the resignation of the Reddy brothers, Mr. Gowda remarked that Mr. Yeddyurappa was well aware of Mr. Halappa's weakness and the strength of the Reddy brothers.
‘Complaint not filed'
Shimoga Special Correspondent reports:
Superintendent of Police S. Murugan told The Hindu here on Sunday that no complaint had been filed so far against Mr. Halappa in connection with his alleged sexual misconduct.