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K’taka ‘satvik’ minister resigns over sex scam
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NEW DELHI | BANGALORE: The Yeddyurappa government in Karnataka, which has established BJP’s toehold in the South, suffered a major embarrassment on Sunday when a minister from the chief minister’s home district of Shimoga was forced to quit, following a media report which alleged that he sexually assaulted a friend’s wife.

Food and civil supplies minister Harathalu Halappa resigned after a leading Kannada daily carried a front-page story which alleged that he had sexually assaulted the wife of a social worker. Mr Halappa rubbished the newspaper report, dubbing it “baseless and untrue” and saw it as a political conspiracy to besmirch his image, orchestrated by his opponents, including some from his own party, but chose not to name them.

The incident, which allegedly took place some four months ago, has left BJP red-faced. The opposition, not surprisingly, pounced on the report.
Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president R V Deshpande said a criminal case should be filed against Mr Halappa and inquiry held. He has convened a party meeting in Bangalore on Monday to finalise its strategy vis-a-vis the issue as “the prestige and protection of women” was involved.

The man at the centre of the controversy, however, continued to swear by his innocence. “There is no truth in it. I am being targeted. I am quitting on moral grounds. I don’t want to embarrass my party, partymen and the government. Let them come out with evidence to prove the charge,” he told newspersons soon after putting in his papers.

Chief minister B S Yeddyurappa said in Belgaum that he had accepted the resignation, saying the minister insisted on quitting to prevent the opposition parties from “capitalising” on the report ahead of the panchayat elections on May 8 and May 12. Mr Yeddyurappa virtually gave a clean chit to Mr Halappa, who represents Soraba constituency, saying he is a loyal partyman and a “satvik” (noble) person.

“Prima facie, there appears to be no truth in the allegations. I told him not to take a hasty decision, but he forced me to accept his resignation saying he does not want to embarrass the party, and he wants to clear his name,” CM said.
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