BANGALORE: Three Bharatiya Janata Party ministers in Karnataka Wednesday quit over viewing porn in the assembly and were barred from house proceedings till cleared, but demands mounted across the state for their expulsion from the legislature.
The three -- Laxman Savadi, C.C. Patil and J. Krishna Palemar -- escaped immediate expulsion from the assembly apparently because the state BJP is a divided house and the central leaders did not want to give a potent weapon in the hands of opponents to hammer it in the crucial Uttar Pradesh assembly elections now under way.
As groups of people hit the streets at several places in the state, burning effigies of the three ministers and demanding resignation of the BJP government, opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular forced repeated adjournments of the legislature in Bangalore seeking the expulsion of the three from the assembly.
Speaker K.G. Bopaiah relied on the Lok Sabha speaker's ruling in the cash-for-vote scam involving BJP members and ruled that he was barring the three former ministers from participating in the house proceedings till a panel he is setting up gives its findings.
Amidst a roar of protests from the Congress and JD-S members, Bopaiah announced he was giving time till Feb 13 to the three to explain their conduct.
He said he will set up a six-member house committee which will hear the three ministers and give its findings by March 12. Till then, the three will not take part in the house proceedings, Bopaiah said and adjourned the assembly sine die, two days ahead of schedule.
The assembly is to meet only in March for presentation of the state's budget.
Savadi, the cooperation minister, and Patil, women and child development minister, were Tuesday caught watching the porn clip on the cell phone of Palemar, the environment and ports minister.
They quit early Wednesday, claiming they had done no wrong and asserting a probe will prove their innocence.
"We have resigned to avoid embarrassment to our party and not give the opposition a flimsy excuse to disrupt the assembly proceedings," a rattled Savadi told reporters at the party office here.
"We are ready to face an enquiry by the speaker as we did no wrong by watching a video clip of some rave incident in a foreign country to know what a rave party is," he said.
They resigned to avoid embarrassing the government and the party, Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda, his predecessor scam-hit B.S. Yeddyurappa and state BJP chief K.S. Eshwarappa told reporters at separate press meets in Bangalore.
In Allahabad, BJP president Nitin Gadkari acknolwedged the incident had embarrassed the party.
The Congress seized the opportunity to take a dig at the BJP.
"There are all kinds of entertainment, sometime political entertainment and sometime other kinds of entertainment. I would not like to use harsh words against them," said Communications Minister Kapil Sibal in New Delhi.
In New Delhi, party spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy assured of strict action against the three, if proved guilty.
The state BJP legislature party met during one of the two adjournments of the assembly and decided against immediately expelling the three from the house.
"The view was that there should be a probe and only then drastic action can be taken," a party spokesperson said.
The state unit is divided into various factions, prominent being pro and anti-Yeddyurappa. Savadi and Patil are known to be Yeddyurappa loyalists openly backing his bid for early re-instatement as the chief minister.