A SLEAZY CD, allegedly featuring Karnataka Water Resources Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi and an unidentified woman, has caused a political storm in the state.
A series of video clips and WhatsApp video call recordings went viral on March 2, and protests demanding the minister’s ouster erupted across the state. The Gokak MLA, however, pleaded innocence, saying it was a “political conspiracy”and that the videos were fake. The following day, though, he resigned citing moral grounds, reportedly following directions from the BJP’s central leadership. This was much to the relief of Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, who had reportedly held a closed-door meeting with BJP MLA Balachandra Jarkiholi, asking him to convince his elder brother to step down.
The scandal comes at a bad time for the ruling BJP. The party is preparing for assembly elections in four states and one Union territory (three in south India) and a Lok Sabha byelection to the Belagavi seat, which fell vacant after the death of Union Minister Suresh Angadi. It is also battling a leadership crisis, corruption charges against Yediyurappa’s kin and ire against snail-paced development.
The chief minister himself has reason to feel flummoxed as Jarkiholi was responsible for installing the current BJP government. He was one of the 17 rebels from the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular), whose mass resignation in July 2019 toppled the JD(S)-Congress coalition government. Jarkiholi, who was re-elected on a BJP ticket, was inducted into the Yediyurappa cabinet “as promised”.
“I urge the chief minister to initiate a thorough probe,”said Jarkiholi. “This is a serious allegation. I have been an elected MLA for the past 21 years and no such allegations were made against me. If the allegations are proven, I will even resign as MLA. Our family is a reputed one.”
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