In a major political embarrassment to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Karnataka Minister for Cooperation Laxman Savadi was caught watching pornography on his mobile phone while the Assembly was in session on Tuesday.

The footage showing Mr. Savadi watching the stuff was shot by TV cameramen perched behind in the elevated media gallery. Mr. Savadi was sitting in the front row of the House. Less than an hour after the session concluded, TV channels beamed the uncensored visuals, each claiming the footage to be “exclusive.”

The channels also showed Minister for Ecology, Environment and Ports J. Krishna Palemar as well as Women and Child Welfare Minister C.C. Patil peeping into Mr. Savadi's phone and gesturing mirthfully.

At a hurriedly convened press conference, Mr. Savadi said Mr. Palemar was showing him a video wherein a woman was gang-raped in a western country. “It looked like a blue film, but that was not what it was.”

The footage

One video showed Mr. Savadi hiding a small phone between his lap and the desk and watching a series of pornographic clips. Another showed Mr. Savadi flipping photographs of women on a bigger touch-screen phone. Mr. Palemar was seen peeping into the touch-screen phone.

One of the cameramen, who claimed to have shot the footage, told The Hindu: “Around 15 minutes before the session ended, another cameraman and I grew suspicious when [Mr.] Savadi turned and looked at the media gallery twice. When we zoomed in, we found him watching pornography.”

The cameraman said a discussion on the drought conditions was going on when the Ministers indulged in the exercise. Speaker K.G. Bopaiah said he had not seen the television footage. He would take action against the Ministers after studying the law and the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Assembly.

Legislative Council Chairman D.H. Shankara Murthy, a senior RSS leader, said: “It is disgusting and shameless.”

Resignation sought

Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah and his counterpart in the Council Motamma condemned the behaviour of the Ministers and demanded their resignation.

Savadi's defence

PTI reports:

Mr. Savadi said the video clippings had women dancing and they were raped by four men.

“Palemar told me such things happen abroad in rave parties. Since the House was discussing the Malpe rave party, I watched it … Just watching it is not a crime.” Mr. Savadi ruled out resigning over the issue.

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