New Delhi: Karnataka minister Ramesh Jarkiholi – at the centre of a sensational controversy after several Kannada television channels aired images and photos from a ‘sex CD’ that allegedly featured him and an unidentified woman – has resigned from the state cabinet.
The Hindu has reported that his resignation comes hours after his brother and BJP leader Bakakrishna Jarkiholi met Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa and sough a CBI inquiry into the incident.
According to the Indian Express, Yediyurappa held a meeting with party colleagues on the matter.
Jarkiholi, who is the state’s water resources minister, allegedly enticed the woman in the video clip with the offer of a government job. Dinesh Kallahalli, a social activist, had on Tuesday lodged a police complaint against Jarkiholi, alleging that he sexually harassed the woman and threatened her and her family of dire consequences. Kallahalli claimed he was authorised by the woman to file the complaint as she did not want to make her identity public.
Jarkiholi, 60, is among four brothers who are politically active. He was formerly in the Congress and is believed to have played a key role in the defection of 17 Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) MLAs that enabled the BJP in coming to power.
The BJP is wary of the CD issue disrupting a budget session of the state legislature, which is scheduled to commence on March 4.
According to news agency PTI, Jarkiholdi said on Tuesday night that he was ‘shocked’ and the videos were “100% fake”, as he also asked for an investigation.
In his resignation letter, Jarkiholi repeated that the allegations were false and said that he was resigning from the cabinet to save his party from embarrassment. He said he should be reinstated once proven innocent.
In 2016, a senior minister in the then Congress government led by Siddaramaiah resigned in the wake of a purported video clip of him with a woman who approached him for an official favour.
Meanwhile, Jarkiholi’s brother Balachandra went on the offensive, seeking a CBI probe into the allegations and threatening to file Rs 100 crore defamation case against those who released the “fake CD”.
Speaking after meeting Yediyurappa, he said Jarkiholi should not resign if he has “not done anything wrong and a thorough investigation has to be done”.
“The woman who they claim has faced injustice, her identity is not known. Someone gives the complaint claiming her relatives insisted on it. Taking that complaint itself is wrong, because the person affected has to give the complaint, not someone on the street,” Balachandra Jarkiholi said, according to news agency PTI.
“If it is proved that Ramesh Jarkiholi is wrong I will advise him to apologise to the people and take political retirement. If he has not done anything wrong those behind it (CD and allegations) should be sent to jail. So inquiry has to happen, that’s the reason I met the chief minister,” he said.
‘Police will inquire into the allegations’
Police will inquire into the allegations of sexual harassment against Jarkiholi based on the complaint, Karnataka home minister Basavraj Bommai said on Wednesday, even as the opposition Congress demanded his immediate resignation and the registration of an FIR.
Speaking to reporters here, Bommai said, “Based on the complaint we are doing the inquiry, as per law we are doing it.”
Responding to a question on the opposition demanding Jarkiholi’s resignation, he said, “Our party will take a decision.”
Deputy chief minister C.N. Ashwth Narayan said it was not right to comment on the issue without knowing the facts, and it may be an allegation “out of malice”. “There is no clarity….complaint has been lodged, let the truth come out….without knowing truth it was not right to comment or pass judgements, it was not clear whether the allegations were made out of any malice, so no question of giving importance to it now,” he told the media.
Demanding Jarkiholi’s immediate resignation and registration of FIR, leader of opposition Siddaramaiah said, “If that party (BJP) has shame and if they respect human values immediately they have to take his resignation.”
“This is national news, if the government has shame, it has to take his resignation immediately, and immediately FIR has to be registered,” he told reporters.
Note: This article has been updated with news on the minister’s resignation.