The ministers in Karnataka seem to have mastered the art of sullying the image of the first-ever BJP government South of the Vindhyas in more and more imaginative ways. After the brazen misuse of power saw B.S. Yeddyurappa and Katta Subrahmanya Naidu spend a spell in the jail following land scams, three ministers – Laxman Savadi, C.C. Patil and Krishna Palemar – have dented the reputation of the ruling dispensation through ‘porngate’. In between, another prominent minister of the government, who played a key role in the installation of the BJP rule, Janardhan Reddy, was hauled up by the CBI over illegal mining. The business tycoon is still cooling his heels behind the jail in Chunchulgadh jail with no clue of bail in sight. Even before the new scam rattled the government, the alleged rave party, patronized by BJP MLA Raghupathi Bhat in St. Mary’s Island, had put the BJP on the backfoot. But the ‘porngate’ instead of providing a breather, caused more embarrassment to the party.
In fact, the history of the nearly four-year old BJP government is dotted with scams, controversies and abuse of power. There are umpteen incidents where the ministers were found indulging in corrupt practices and it was only fitting that the man who headed the government for a large period of time – Yeddyurappa – presided over the biggest of all the scams. The indictment of Yeddyurppa, Janardhan Reddy, Sri Ramulu and Karunakara Reddy by the Lokayukta Santosh Hegde in his voluminous report unraveled the magnitude of the plunder and loot of natural resources and the resultant losses caused to the state exchequer. Ironically, the BJP and its government will have to live with the sword of the report hanging over it, even if it hopes the present porngate gets blown over. With the appointment of the new Lokayukta the focus will again shift to the report and it would be too difficult for the government to derail the course of law in the era of media scrutiny.
Coming back to the porngate, which saw the exit of three ministers for watching allegedly sleazy video clips on their mobile phone while Assembly was engaged in a serious discussion over the drought situation in the Karnataka, the insensitivity of the government is too appalling to be ignored. Only a few hours back the house had seen a fiery debate about allowing a rave party to be held at St. Mary’s Island, with Opposition crying foul of BJP government’s hardline postures on issues relating to morality and sex. The BJP was attacked left right and centre for promoting sex tourism while preaching moral values and ethics to the society, including the importance of safeguarding Indian culture. These debates seem to have had hardly any effect on the three ministers, who knowing fully well that the house is under the surveillance of media cameras, merrily indulged in cheap entertainment. The impunity and the disregard with which they went about doing what they did stems from the standard set by leaders like Yeddyurappa and Eshwarappa, whose public behaviour and conduct are an antithesis of a public servant. It is a classic case of ‘yatha raja thatha praja’.
The moral bankruptcy of the BJP came to the fore once again, when people like Renukacharya was allowed to stand up and defend the tainted ministers. The excise minister is particularly not known for following a code of ethics. In fact, he was the first minister to have embarrassed the government on the issue of morality after being caught kissing a nurse on camera and subsequently threatening to kill her. The moral high ground the BJP craves to claim in matters of decency and ethics was then shattered by Haratalu Halappa, who faced accusations of trying to seduce his friend’s wife. The BJP should have woken up after this incident, but lack of morality on the part of Yeddyurappa, both in private and public life, left the pack with hardly any role models. The former chief minister was so unfazed and shameless that he not only found it unnecessary to cover up his alleged relationship with the lone woman minister, but also openly sat in a Yaga held in Kalladka with the woman seated next to him as any married couple would do.
In fact, this shamelessness seems to have rubbed on his cronies. Both C.C. Patil and Lakshman Savadi are still protesting their innocence. The irony is they have openly declared that they have not done anything wrong and they need not apologize to people. Even if we are to believe that they did not watch porn material, they still owe an apology to the people of the State for playing on their mobile phone when the Assembly was discussing a serious matter. The BJP ministers, who through their moral policing, regard themselves as the custodians of Indian morality, should adhere to minimum norms of decency and the least they could do is apologise. The order of barring them from attending the session has already been left useless by the hasty decision of the speaker to adjourn the house indefinitely. The six crore people of Karnataka have just one expectation from the three ministers. Mr. Savadi, Mr. Patil and Mr. Palemar, if you have even an iota of morality, just say sorry! If your ego comes in between, just say sorry for using the mobile phone in the Assembly, which in itself is an offence!