Of sleazegate ministers and their conflicting answers

Of sleazegate ministers and their conflicting answers

Will the three Karnataka sleazegate ministers corroborate or contradict one another in their replies to the assembly speaker's notice seeking their version on porn viewing in the house?

This question dominates the talk in political and public circles as Laxman Savadi, C.C. Patil and J. Krishna Palemar of the BJP ready their replies to be given to speaker K.G. Bopaiah Monday.

The three have been giving varying versions since Savadi and Patil were caught on camera by TV channels watching a porn clip on Palemar's cell phone in the assembly on Tuesday. The three have resigned and are trying to save their assembly membership in the face of forceful demand from the opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular parties as well as civil society that they quit as lawmakers.

Palemar has expressed surprise over why his name was taken by Savadi and Patil.
He says he does not know how the MMS came to him on Feb 7, the day Savadi and Patil watched it in the house.

Palemar also says that he did not see the clip and became aware of it only after Savadi and Patil were shown watching it.

Savadi's version debunks Palemar's claims.

He says Palemar gave them the phone to see the clip to know how things can go out of control at rave parties as the assembly had earlier been rocked by reports that a group of foreigners had publicly engaged in sex act at a party hosted for them by the state tourism department near Udupi, about 400 km west of Bangalore. The party was to promote tourism in coastal areas.

Savadi also contradicted Patil. He says he and Patil watched the clip.

Patil claims he must have seen the clip for a few seconds and when obscene pictures started coming, he switched off the phone which was in Savadi's hands.

Since the three will have to give the reply in writing to Bopaiah's notice, they are consulting their lawyers to ensure no slip-up in drafting their version.

As Savadi, Patil and Palemar prepare their replies, Bopaiah has been finding it tough to defend his decision not to act against them on the basis of the telecast of the episode.

Ironically, he is using the Supreme Court strictures against him to justify his decision.

He did not disqualify the three summarily "to ensure that the accused get principles of natural justice and fair play", Bopaiah says.

The speaker notes that the Supreme Court while quashing his order to disqualify 16 legislators in October last year had said recently that he had not followed the principles of natural justice.

It is a different matter that till the Supreme Court slammed him Bopaiah found nothing wrong in his disqualification act, though the affected legislator and the Congress and the JD-S cried hoarse those days.

The speaker is falling back on the apex court strictures because he is being ridiculed by the Congress and the JD-S for opting for an elaborate procedure to establish the guilt of Savadi, Patil and Palemar while he took only a few days to throw 16 legislators out of the house in October 2010.

Bopaiah is to set up a six-member panel consisting of two legislators each from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the opposition Congress and JD-S to probe the sleazegate ministers' action and recommend further steps by March 12.

The Congress and the JD-S have not yet decided whether to be on the panel as they are insisting on immediate expulsion of the three from the assembly.