The people of Karnataka seemed to be in no mood to drop all their plans to co-operate with the shutdown called for by the ruling party protesting against the Governor's sanction to prosecute the scandal-tainted Chief Minister.
Governor of Karnataka H.R. Bhardwaj on Friday gave his nod to launch criminal proceedings against Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa on the plea of two Bangalore advocates Sirajin Bashan and K.N. Balaraj. This quickly turned into violent protests across the state even as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) called for a shutdown.
However, the response to the state-sponsored shutdown was not even close to lukewarm, at least in the capital. The roads of Bangalore continued to buzz with traffic, while local businesses did not find it in them to lose out on the weekend revenue despite the incidents of violence.
So far, 29 government buses have been burnt across several districts. Bus depots have emerged as the favorite targets for miscreants in the capital. With the escalation in violence, the Police Commissioner enforced section 144 prohibitory order in Bangalore for the next 48 hours. Police forces have been put on high alert. Meanwhile, the Governor has appealed for peace.
Reign of Scandals
B.S. Yeddyurappa, also referred to as BSY for short, is the BJP's first Chief Minister in south India. Even since the saffron party has come into power, the state has been hit by a 'reign of scandals'- from party dissidence to myriad allegations of corruption and nepotism.
On December 28, 2010, advocates, Bashan and Balaraj, sought the Governor's permission for prosecuting the Chief Minister in the wake of the latest allegations of nepotism against Yeddyurappa that he had favoured his kin in with prime land and freed from government control large tracts of land to benefit people who were investing money in his sons' business.
In response the Governor accorded sanction under Section 19(1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. Both the provisions relate to Governor's powers to grant sanction against public servant.
The Governor and the ruling party have been exchanging accusations ever since the break out of the mining scam in which two other leaders of the ruling party were accused. The charges of corruption against ministers continued to pour in over the following months.
Few months back, Karnataka was put into political turmoil with dissendence in the embattled party threatening the government's stability. The Governor had back then ordered trust vote. Amid high drama, the Chief Minister managed to win the vote of confidence twice in four days.
In the backdrop, the BJP high command at Delhi struggled to sustain its sole power point in the South. There were several allegations of partiality slapped against the Governor as the saffron party accused Bhardwaj of siding with the Congress. While the Congress is part of the Opposition in Karnataka, Congress-led alliance, United Progress Alliance (UPA), enjoys power at the Centre.
The current crisis has also taken a similar political avatar with allegations aplenty. While the BJP in Karnataka has resorted to various tactics showing their complete support to the CM and is seeking Governor's recall, the BJP and Congress have locked horns in Delhi.
The Congress asserted that the Governor was only exercising his constitutional duties. BJP countered this saying that H.R. Bharadwaj has turned the Raj Bhavan (Governor's Office) into Congress office and accused him of acting out of political vendetta.
BJP's plan of action:
Even though the bandh has failed to elicit responses from the people, the BJP has formulated political and legal action.
- Karnataka unit MLAs, MPs and MLCs, including the Chief Minister, are expected to meet President Pratibha Patil on Monday seeking Bharadwaj's recall
- The party is also mulling legal action citing that the governor can accord sanction for prosecution under Section 197 of the CrPC and Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act only after allegations are found prima facie true by any investigating agency