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Yeddyurappa unwilling to step down as opposition steps up pressure

Saturday July 23, 2011 08:24:58 AM, IANS

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Bangalore/New Delhi: Unfazed by the opposition's demand for his ouster, the BJP's first chief minister in south India, Karnataka's B.S. Yeddyurappa, Friday maintained the Lokayukta report on his alleged involvement in illegal mining did not contain anything new and he was not stepping down.

Meanwhile, Governor H.R. Bhardwaj said he will act on Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde's report report on illegal mining as soon as he gets it.

Bhardwaj has been highly critical of Yeddyurappa and his government and has twice recommended its sacking and placing the state under direct central rule.

Yeddyurappa is reaching Delhi Sunday or Monday for talks with his Bharatiya Janata Party leaders on his future following the Lokayukta naming him in illegal mining report.

A senior state BJP leader, requesting he not be identified, told IANS in Bangalore that Yeddyurappa, holidaying in Mauritius, had a detailed discussion with senior party leader Arun Jaitley over the phone.

"He told Jaitley of his desire to continue in office because the Lokayukta report contained nothing new," the leader said.

He said "some of the cases mentioned by the Lokayukta in his report are old and already in the public domain. Also private complaints have been filed (by two Bangalore advocates against Yeddyurappa and his kin) and the court is hearing them. Therefore Yeddyurappa wants to continue till the verdict on these cases are out and conveyed this to Jaitely," he said.

The chief minister is under mounting pressure from Congress, Left parties and Janata Dal-Secular to quit in view of Hegde's report and also over tapping of his phone.

The state Congress is hitting the streets in Bangalore Saturday to press for Yeddyurappa's resignation.

Yeddyurappa will head to Delhi straight from Mauritius, state Home Minister V.S. Acharya told reporters in Bangalore.

The visit to Delhi will come as BJP and Congress intensify attack on each other over Yeddyurapa remaining in office in spite of Hegde concluding that he had not only not curbed illegal mining but allowed his kin to financially benefit from firms involved in it.

Yeddyurappa, however, tried to put up a brave face. He told the Times Now news channel in Mauritius that there were many allegations against him by opposition parties and he was not bothered about them.

"I will not cut short my holiday plans. I will return to India on July 25. I will fly to New Delhi straight from here and consult my party's national leaders about the future course of action. I will remain the chief minister for the rest of the BJP's term (till May 2013) in Karnataka," he said.

The state Congress leaders said they suspected Yeddyurappa's hand in the tapping of the Lokayukta's phone. "These things cannot happen without the knowledge and permission of the chief minister," leader of opposition in the assembly Siddaramaiah told reporters.

The state BJP, however, dismissed the charge and said Lokayukta should decide on the agency to probe tapping of his phone. "We agree this is a serious matter. It should be probed," state unit chief K.S. Eshwarappa said.

In the meantime, Hegde denied reports in a section of the media that he has named former chief minister S.M. Krishna, now India's external affairs minister, in his report.

"I have not named former state chief ministers S.M. Krishna and N. Dharam Singh in the report. The report, however, has a mention about the impropriety involved in de-reserving 11,620 sq. km of forest area in the state for mining and allotment of mining leases to select firms in 2003 when Krishna was the chief minister," Hegde told IANS.

BJP spokesperson Rajiv Prasad Rudy, however, banked on such reports to hit back at the Congress for demanding Yeddyurappa's resignation.

He asked in New Delhi Friday whether the Congress would sack Krishna from the cabinet on the basis of speculation.

A copy of the final report would be sent to governor Bhardwaj for his perusal, Hegde said.

"I am not joining the issue with the state governor. If he wants the report, I will send him a copy as I am entitled under the provisions of the Lokayukta Act as he is the constitutional head of the state," he said.

Hegde said: "The report will be first submitted to the state government by our registrar (Moosa Kunhi Nayar) probably on Monday. If the governor does not get a copy from the state government as it is expected to send him, I will be within my rights to send a copy of the report to him."

"I have sought protection to the five investigation officers from the state government as there is professional and personal threat to them from the powerful politicians, ministers and officials who have been named in the report," he added.








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