For BJP, Ashoka case a hard nut to crack

For BJP, Ashoka case a hard nut to crack

The party seems to be applying a different yardstick to the home minister by not asking him to quit

The ruling party argues that there is no need for the minister to quit because he is not convicted.  When Naidu got into legal problems over KIADB land scams in December last, it was for the first time the BJP government was facing such a situation. But with two of its leaders – B S Yeddyurappa and S N Krishnaiah Setty – already in judicial custody, the BJP is not in a position to accept the hard reality that its home minister himself has to face the court case.

But there is a difference between the two cases. When Katta resigned, the Lokayukta police had almost completed the investigation into land grab and denotification cases.
But in the case of Ashoka, the police filed the FIR on Friday and investigation began on Saturday.

This is said to be the second time in Karnataka that a home minister is facing a criminal case. R L Jalappa too faced a criminal charge in the Rashid murder case. Interestingly the police department, barring Intelligence, comes under the purview of the Home Minister. A police officer of the rank of DySP has begun investigation against Ashoka.

DVS defends
Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda told reporters in New Delhi that Ashoka need not resign because the Lokayukta is independent of the government. So, the question of Ashoka influencing the Lokayukta does not arise, he said.

Gowda said vested interests had levelled charges against Ashoka because they have an agenda. He said that the government respects court and justice will prevail. Because of the Lokayukta report, four ministers were dropped from the cabinet. But the case of Ashoka is different, he argued.

‘What about Guv?’
State BJP President K S Eshwarappa on Saturday, replying to questions by the media in Bangalore, said that there was no need for Ashoka to resign just because an FIR was filed against him. “An FIR has been booked against Governor H R Bhardwaj in Delhi. Is he going to resign?,” he said.

Eshwarappa said Yeddyurappa as the chief minister had denotified just 100 acres. But when H D Kumaraswamy was the chief minister, he had denotified 200 acres and during the regime of S M Krishna, it was 800 acres, he said.

The complaint against Ashoka is that he had illegally purchased land at Lottegollahalli, acquired by BDA for a layout. Complainant Jayakumar Hiremath has accused the Home Minister of illegally purchasing nine guntas in survey No. 10/1, and 14 guntas in Survey No.10/11. In 2009, Ashoka influenced then chief minister Yeddyurappa to direct the BDA to withdraw from acquiring the land.

An application was filed in the name of original owners requesting BDA to withdraw the land acquisition. But eventually, the minister benefited. The land could have fetched about Rs 30 crore to the government, Hiremath said. Yeddyurappa is the second accused in this case.

Ashoka argues that those who are trying to malign him now, had made similar attempts earlier too, but in vain. Whatever may be his arguments, the final decision will be taken by the party’s central leadership.

There is no rule that a minister has to quit once an FIR is filed. But usually on moral grounds the accused quit. In Ashoka’s case, the pressure to resign is more as he is the Home Minister.

Advocate Sirajin Basha had filed a case against Ashoka. But the Governor had not accorded sanction reportedly on the grounds that the chief minister had not recommended it. If the Lokayukta police has to file a chargesheet against the accused, sanction from the Governor will be required.

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