Minister Ramesh quits to save BJP govt's blushes
‘Allegations against me far from true; govt should probe thoroughly’
Bengaluru: Water Resources Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi who is facing allegations of seeking sexual favours from a woman in return for a job resigned on Wednesday.
Jarkiholi, however, refuted the allegations and stated that he was resigning from the cabinet on moral grounds and to save the ruling BJP from embarrassment.
His resignation came after protests and criticism by opposition parties and several sections of society, causing a huge embarrassment to the government.
In his resignation letter to Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa just ahead of the cabinet meeting in the afternoon, Jarkiholi claimed he was innocent.
"The allegations against me are far from the truth. It has to be investigated at the earliest. Though I'm confident about my innocence, taking moral responsibility, I'm resigning from my position as the cabinet minister. I request you to accept it," he said.
A social activist, Dinesh Kallahalli, had on Tuesday lodged a police complaint against Ramesh, alleging that he had sexually harassed a 'job aspirant' and threatened the woman and her family with dire consequences.
Dubbing it as 'sex for job' scandal, purported video clips showing Ramesh Jarkiholi getting intimate with an unidentified woman was widely aired by news channels. According to sources, Jarkiholi tendered his resignation on the directions from the party high command. BJP national general secretary in-charge of Karnataka Arun Singh and party national general secretary (organisation) B L Santosh reportedly held discussions on the charges and CD this morning and communicated the party's decision to the State leadership, keeping in mind the Assembly polls in five states and also bypolls and panchayat elections in Karnataka.
Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa then called party MLA from Arabhavi, Balachandra Jarkiholi, who is Ramesh's brother and informed him of the decision.
According to sources, Yediyurappa reportedly assured Jarkiholi that he would be inducted into the Cabinet again if he was cleared of the charges levelled against him.
There were also reports that he was promised that Balachandra Jarkiholi would be inducted in his place. However, clarifying that there were no conditions put before the resignation was tendered, Balachandra Jarkiholi said the CM sent the resignation to the Governor, a probe would take place and Ramesh would come out innocent.
Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah had earlier in the day said, "If that party (BJP) has an iota of shame and if they respect human values, they have to seek his resignation immediately. This is national news. If the government has shame, it has to take his resignation and FIR has to be registered immediately."
Meanwhile, police said they have summoned Kallahalli to appear before them on Thursday as part of the investigation.
The activist has been asked to depose before the Investigating Officer at the Cubbon Park police station, where he had lodged the complaint against the former minister.
According to reports, the Chief Minister noted during the cabinet meet that the allegation against Jarkiholi had caused huge embarrassment to the government.
But Bommai told reporters during the briefing that the issue did not come up for discussion as Jarkiholi had resigned.
Asked whether any decision had been taken on the inquiry, he said, "none has been taken at the government level. A complaint has been registered and police are probing it."
Ramesh Jarkiholi, an MLA from Gokak, who was earlier with Congress, was among the chief architects in causing the downfall of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government that eventually paved the way for the BJP to come to power.