The two Houses of the Karnataka State legislature plunged into a crisis on Monday with the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly and the Council demanding an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation into illegal mining.

Legislators of the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular), who constitute a major chunk of the Opposition in both the Houses, began an indefinite dharna and said that they would not relent until the Government agreed to a CBI inquiry.

Refuses to buckle

Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, in statements made in both the Houses, refused to buckle under the pressure exerted by the Opposition and said the Government would at best order an investigation by the Criminal Investigation Department of the Karnataka Police.

Even as the Bharatiya Janata Party legislators and Ministers left the Assembly hall after the House was adjourned for the day, the Opposition members led by Siddaramaiah of the Congress and H.D. Revanna of the JD(S) prepared to spend the night in the Assembly hall, reminiscent of what happened around 12 years ago when the Opposition staged a nightlong dharna demanding that the then J.H. Patel Government agree to waive farm loans.

Mr. Yeddyurappa, who was then in the Opposition, joined hands with the Congress under the leadership of M. Mallikarjun Kharge who was then the Leader of the Opposition and they refused to heed the request of the then Speaker, Ramesh Kumar.

‘Scam is massive'

Mr. Siddaramaiah, speaking to The Hindu, said, “We will not relent until the Government orders an investigation by the CBI. The mining scam is massive, and only the CBI is equipped to investigate the matter, which has inter-State ramifications. If Congressmen are also involved in illegal mining, let them also face the CBI probe. We will not budge and the Chief Minister cannot brush away our demand by attempting to divert our attention to other matters of public importance. I understand this is the budget session of the legislature and the Finance Bill has to be passed before July 31, given the vote on account that the Government has taken for four months. We will cooperate with the Government if it orders a CBI probe.”

Arrangements made

By nightfall, bedding and pillows arrived for the legislators who stuck to their demand and decided to spend the night at the Vidhana Soudha. Food was arranged and so were medicines sought by some of the legislators. A few ambulances were also stationed in the vicinity of the building.

Earlier in the day, the 27 JD(S) MLAs arrived in the Assembly wearing hard hats, much to the displeasure of Speaker K.G. Bopaiah who said that the members should note that they were not on the street but in the Assembly.