KARNATAKA

`Deve Gowda was not shown govt. files'

BANGALORE, MARCH 17. The Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, told the Legislative Council on Thursday that neither did the Government allow any "extra-constitutional authority" to scrutinise official files nor did the person in question ask for any files as reported in the media.

Mr. Dharam Singh was intervening when the Leader of the Opposition, D.H. Shankaramurthy, was making a bid to move an adjournment motion on the issue of the reported scrutiny of official files by the former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) President, H.D. Deve Gowda, at the Ballabrooie government guest house on Wednesday in the presence of the Chief Minister and senior officials.

Volunteering to clarify the Government's position even as the Chairman, V.R. Sudarshan, was deliberating whether the adjournment motion has any merit as its content was based on media reports, Mr. Dharam Singh said it is true Mr. Deve Gowda had come to Ballabrooie at the appointed hour while he was discussing official matters with the top officials, including the Chief Secretary and the Principal Secretary. He had given an appointment to Mr. Deve Gowda who wanted to discuss some political business, he added.

Citing media reports, Mr. Shankaramurthy argued that it is illegal to discuss official files with an extra-constitutional authority irrespective of the posts he held.

Mr. Dhram Singh said the Government had only discussed some development issues with Mr. Deve Gowda and not handed over any files for his perusal, and the meeting was over by 10.30 p.m. and did not go on till the early hours of the next day as reported in the media. "As Chief Minister, I know my rights and responsibilities. The reports appearing in the media are wrong," he said.

The Opposition parties are disappointed as they imagined that something wrong was done. As the meeting was a political one, the Opposition has no right to question what was discussed between coalition partners. Mr. Dharam Singh told the Opposition to come out with concrete points to prove that the Government was at fault. "Please do not try to create problems and waste time. I know the dignity of the post I hold and I will never allow it to be belittled," Mr. Dharam Singh asserted.

Not satisfied with the clarification, M.P. Nadagouda of Janata Dal (United) and others insisted that the Government reveal in public interest "the files it discussed with Mr. Deve Gowda."

`Don't distort facts'

The Leader of the House, M. Mallikarjun Kharge, and the Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs, H.K. Patil, told the Opposition not to distort facts and the Government had not discussed any official matters.

The officials were with the Chief Minister and not called after Mr. Deve Gowda arrived at the venue with prior appointment with the Chief Minister, they asserted.

Basavaraja Bommai of the Janata Dal (U) said: "We trust the Chief Minister and his statement. But the circumstances in which the meeting took place have given room for doubts. The entire issue revolves around the sanctity of the oath of secrecy taken by the Chief Minister and the reported accessibility of official files for an extra-constitutional authority."

Even as many Opposition members were on their feet, Mr. Sudarshan ruled that the adjournment motion did not deserve discussion.

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