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Protesting Congress leaders arrested

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R.V. Deshpande, KPCC chief, being arrested in Bangalore on Saturday. —
R.V. Deshpande, KPCC chief, being arrested in Bangalore on Saturday. —

Bangalore Bureau

Most Ministers stayed away from secretariat

Yeddyurappa terms protest a

conspiracy

Bangalore: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Government was faced with a serious protest here on Saturday by the Congress for the first time after coming to power. Nearly 100 Congress leaders were arrested when they attempted to force their way into the Vidhana Soudha, the seat of the Government secretariat, in violation of prohibitory orders in force.

A large number of leaders and legislators led by Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president R.V. Deshpande, leaders of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly and the Council, Siddaramaiah and V.S. Ugrappa respectively, and KPCC working president D.K. Shivakumar, were stopped when they were on their way to Vidhana Soudha from the KPCC office. Some of them dodged the police and attempted to enter the secretariat from another gate near the Legislators’ Home, but in vain. Later in the day, the arrested leaders sat on an indefinite dharna in a building of the City Armed Reserve Police at Audugodi where they have been lodged.

The police personnel stationed at Vidhana Soudha arrested 354 persons among whom were 44 MLAs, 14 MLCs, three former MPs and 28 former MLAs. Even as many Congress leaders made a beeline to the Vidhana Soudha to court arrest, most Ministers preferred to stay away from the secretariat. The Chief Minister, B.S. Yeddyurappa, however, went about with several meetings in the secretariat.

It was a Congress show of strength near the secretariat during the forenoon, with Mr. Deshpande walking the distance along with a few Youth Congress and National Students Union of India (NSUI) State unit members despite objections by the police. After a while, the police arrested all of them. Mr. Siddaramaiah, Mr. Shivakumar and former Ministers A.B. Maalakaraddi, Roshan Baig and Qamarul Islam, and the former MP Tejaswini Gowda were seen engaged in a heated exchange with the police. Reacting to the protest, Mr. Yeddyurappa said there was no specific reason for the demonstration and that it had disturbed the Dasara festive mood. “The Congress legislators and leaders were taken into custody when they tried to lay siege to the State secretariat by defying prohibitory orders. The Opposition parties have the right to protest against the Government, but cannot lay siege to the secretariat,” he said. He termed the Congress protest a “conspiracy” and said the Opposition was jealous of the progress being made by the Government.

Mr. Siddaramaiah alleged that the Government had prevented the legislators from attending a Congress Legislature Party meeting scheduled in the Vidhana Soudha which was tantamount to breach of privilege.

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