Karnataka assembly speaker KR Ramesh Kumar on Tuesday compared himself to a "rape survivor" after the state government announced a SIT probe against him in an alleged bribery case.
This comes days after the state's Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy released an audio clip that allegedly contains bribery charges against Kumar.
According to reports, the controversial audio clip contains a conversation between BJP's state president BS Yeddyurappa and JD(S) MLA Nagangouda Kandkur's son Sharanagouda. In the clip, it had been alleged that MLAs could resign without any fear because speaker Ramesh Kumar had been paid Rs 50 crore.
On Tuesday, the speaker, pointing to repeated reference to charges against him, said his "situation was like that of a rape victim, as they too are supposedly questioned about the incident repeatedly".
"My situation is like that of a rape victim. When you complain that rape has happened, accused is put in jail. But his lawyers ask how did it happen? When did it happen and how many times? Rape happens once but you get raped a 100 times in the court. This is my condition," he said in the state assembly.
Kumaraswamy had accepted an "advice" by an emotional speaker to constitute a SIT to probe the episode to "establish the truth" as his name had been dragged with the charge that he had been "booked" for Rs. 50 crore.
The stand-off between the government and opposition continued in the assembly on Tuesday as the BJP stuck to its strong opposition to the SIT, saying it could be used for "political vengeance".
"Let's discuss and try to find a solution," the speaker announced as he adjourned the assembly proceedings to Wednesday morning.
The speaker's decision came after Yeddyurappa, the leader of the opposition, pointed out that no effort was made by the Chair to seek the opinion of the opposition before deciding on the investigation agency to inquire into the case.
"SIT is being imposed on us forcefully," he said.
Yeddyurappa expressed apprehensions about the SIT as it comes under the Chief Minister and said he was firm on his stand to quit politics if it was proved he was present during conversations between the persons in the audio on a "Rs. 50 crore offer to book" the speaker, as alleged by HD Kumaraswamy.
Accusing the Chief Minister of hatching a conspiracy against him by "twisting facts", he said Kumaraswamy has released the audio partially, to save his seat.
The BJP has objected to the SIT and insisted on constituting a House committee or a judicial probe. They also said that the probe cannot be conducted by an agency that is under the Chief Minister as he too was a party in the case.
The political war over charges of horse-trading had escalated in Karnataka last Friday with Kumaraswamy releasing the audio clip.
As the House met for the day, opposition members requested the Chair to reconsider the decision to hand over the probe to the SIT.
Former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar alleged that Kumaraswamy was behind the audio conversation as he was the one who sent Sharan Gouda, son of the MLA Naganagouda, who was being lured and he also heard the conversation between the two individuals via a conference call.
"So the CM is the offender, he is the first accused in the case," he said.
Another senior BJP member Madhu Swamy, questioning the constitution of the SIT, said the probe report can only be submitted to court by the SIT and not to the government or the Chair.
Kumaraswamy expressed surprise about being called A1 by BJP in the case and said that since the leader of the opposition and other members have called him accused, "at least to punish me, a comprehensive inquiry has to happen."
Hitting out at BJP for suspecting political vengeance on the part of the government and its officials, he asked "did I direct Yeddyurappa and others in the way they did.?
Claiming to enjoy the complete confidence of Congress and JD(S) MLAs, Kumaraswamy spoke of the need to amend the anti-defection law and said if an elected MLA resigns, he should not be allowed to contest elections for five years.
"Such a permanent change has to be brought in," he said.
Stating that he was also ready for a discussion on the alleged 2014 video CD about the cash for vote allegedly involving him, which was raised by the BJP, the chief minister said he would abide by the Speaker's advice on constituting an SIT to probe the audio clip.
The political slugfest broke out as Kumaraswamy on Friday claimed there were two audio clips of recorded telephonic conversation between Yeddyurappa and Sharan Gouda.
(With inputs from agencies)
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