BJP to boycott four 'tainted' ministers in Belagavi session

High drama was witnessed in front of the  Vidhana Soudha on Thursday as BJP leaders scuffled with the police for preventing their plan to stage a protest demonstration seeking the resignation of four ‘tainted’ ministers in the Siddaramaiah Cabinet.

The BJP leaders, including party president Pralhad Joshi, former chief ministers Jagadish Shettar, B S Yeddyurappa and a few legislators, had planned to stage a demonstration in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue between the Vidhana Soudha and the Vikasa Soudha in support of their demand.

They had also planned to submit a memorandum to Governor Vajubhai Vala at Raj Bhavan. The BJP’s main demand was four ministers — H S Mahadevappa, Qamar-ul-Islam, Dinesh Gundu Rao and K J George — either resign or be dropped from the Cabinet for their involvement in land-related controversies.

However, the BJP leaders had apparently not sought permission from the police for their protest.

Former minister Shobha Karandlaje, who, along with a few woman BJP corporators arrived at the MG Road statue site, was told by the police that she cannot stage the dharna as the venue was a prohibited zone.

Karandlaje told the police that they were curtailing her right of freedom of expression and she would stage the dharna at any cost. Heated arguments between Karandlaje, her associates and the police continued for some time.

The police took them into custody after they refused to budge from the site. Inside the Vidhana Soudha, another drama was unfolding. Joshi, Yeddyurappa, K S Eshwarappa and a few legislators were holding a meeting at Shettar’s chamber. Police officers who arrived there told the leaders that they cannot go ahead with the dharna. Unfazed, the leaders trooped out of the chamber and walked down towards the proposed dharna site.

However, the police had already barricaded the entrance to the site. The leaders tried to force themselves through the barricade. At one point, Joshi lost his balance and had to be helped to his feet by legislators Sunil Kumar and Aravind Limbavali. The leaders then sat down in front of the barricade and shouted slogans against the government. The police took them into custody and whisked them away in a BMTC bus.

The BJP Legislature Party meeting held later in the day decided to boycott the four ‘tainted ministers’ in the forthcoming session of the Legislature in Belgaum. Briefing reporters after the meeting, Joshi said the BJP will not only ask any question to the ministers but will also not allow them to participate in any discussion in the legislature if they do not resign before December 9, the start of the winter session.

Joshi accused the government of not taking steps to provide dues to sugar cane farmers. He said as many as 50,000 farmers will picket the Suvarna Soudha, the venue of the legislature session, on December 9.

In a bid to mobilise support for the protest, the State leaders will tour the districts of Hubballi-Dharwad, Uttara Kannada, Bagalkot, Vijayapura, Haveri, Chikkodi, Belagavi and Gadag during the first week of December, Joshi said.

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