As BJP ups ante against Kulkarni, CM, Reddy defend 'tainted' minister

As BJP ups ante against Kulkarni, CM, Reddy defend 'tainted' minister

Kempaiah deputed to protect minister in murder case, says Shobha

As BJP ups ante against Kulkarni, CM, Reddy defend 'tainted' minister

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy on Monday defended Mines and Geology Minister Vinay Kulkarni over the murder of Dharwad Zilla Panchayat member Yogeshgouda Goudar, even as the BJP continued its campaign for his ouster.

The BJP held statewide protests demanding Kulkarni's resignation, accusing him of "direct involvement" in the murder of Goudar, who belonged to the BJP.

"Kulkarni's name does not figure in the charge sheet," Reddy said. "It was a property dispute between two friends in which Goudar was killed," he said, stressing that Kulkarni had no connection with the case.

Reddy also played down the BJP's demand for the suspension of DySP Tulajappa Sulfi, who allegedly exerted pressure on Goudar's family to withdraw the case at Kulkarni's behest. "Since Assembly elections are around, the allegations are clearly politically-motivated," Reddy said.

The Home Minister mocked the BJP for raking up baseless issues against Congress ministers. "They were behind George. Now, they are after Kulkarni," he said.

 Replying to reporters queries in Gadag, Siddaramaiah said that the BJP had hatached a conspiracy to defame Kulkarni by linking him to Goudar's murder, as he (Kulkarni) was in the forefornt of the agitation seeking separate religion status for Lingayat.

BJP general secretary Shobha Karandlaje accused the state government of "protecting" Kulkarni by hushing up the murder of Goudar. She targetted home minister's advisor Kempaiah. "What was the need for Kempaiah to speak to the investigation officer in the murder case, hold talks with the members of Goudar's family and local police officers in Dharwad," she asked, while addressing a press conference in Bengaluru. She blamed the state government for systematically trying to destroy evidence in the two cases: Goudar's murder and DySP M K Ganapathi death.

The BJP MP from Udupi-Chikkamagluru said that the Congress was spreading rumours that BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa would not contest the 2018 Assembly polls. "The Congress is not able to tolerate the fact that Nava Karnataka Nirmana Parivarthna Yatra is receiving a huge public response," she said.