BJP leaders to meet President tomorrow; Karnataka bandh against Governor's action peaceful

A Statewide bandh called by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to protest against the action of Governor H.R. Bhardwaj passed off largely peacefully on Saturday, even as Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa decided to move the Karnataka High Court to seek a stay on the sanction granted for his prosecution.

Sources close to the Chief Minister told The Hindu that a battery of senior advocates was preparing a petition, which would be filed on Monday highlighting the “lapses” committed by the Governor. Meanwhile, the two advocates who have been accorded permission by the Governor to prosecute the Chief Minister have filed private complaints against Mr. Yeddyurappa in an additional sessions judge court here and also a caveat in the High Court to prevent him from obtaining an ex-parte stay order.

As for the bandh, the police said that barring minor incidents of stone throwing and arson, the dawn-to-dusk protest was peaceful, although normal life in most parts of the State was disrupted. Business establishments, commercial banks, schools and colleges remained closed, and daily-wage workers were the worst hit with the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation, and in particular, the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation operating only skeletal services.

Autorickshaws resumed operations by sundown and rail services were near normal though bandh supporters stopped long-distance trains in several districts for short durations. Two State transport Corporation buses were set ablaze on Friday night at Honnali in Davanagere district. Arson and stone throwing, targeting public and private properties, were reported in Belgaum. The police said nearly 500 people had been arrested.

Mr. Yeddyurappa said the bandh was total and peaceful and it was a response of the people against the Governor's sanction. “It is a message to the Governor that he should leave Karnataka.”

On Monday, top leaders of the BJP's national and State units, apart from all its MPs from Karnataka, will call on President Pratibha Patil and seek recall of the Governor. All his actions and statements will be listed in a memorandum.

Mr. Yeddyurappa said the Governor had not provided him a copy of the complaint made against him by the advocates. The Governor refused to provide a copy of his sanction order to the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister on Friday but yielded to a request by a group of Ministers who called on him on Saturday.

Interestingly, the Raj Bhavan released the complaint of the two advocates made to the Governor on December 28. It provides graphic details of the allegations against the Chief Minister and Minister for Home and Transport R. Ashok. The complaint and the documentary evidence run into over 1,600 pages.

In another development, Chief Secretary S.V. Ranganath has assured the Union government that adequate steps would be taken to maintain law and order. Sources said the Union Home Secretary had spoken to him and enquired about the developments.