BJP members today trooped into the Well of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly and staged a sit-in, seeking removal of state minister Tanvir Sait, who is facing flak for allegedly looking at sleazy pictures on his mobile phone at a public function.
Exchange of words, allegations and counter-allegations marked the proceedings of the House as the Congress government hit back at opposition BJP by calling it “anti-minority” for celebrating “black day” on Tipu Jayanti.
Sait, who is Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, had on November 10 stirred a controversy after video footage emerged showing him purportedly watching pictures of skimpily clad girls on his mobile on dais at a public function to mark Tipu Jayanti celebrations in Raichur district.
Raising the issue, Opposition Leader Jagadish Shettar said Sait’s act was unbecoming of a minister and people in public life should have some responsibility. He said, “We ask teachers to become role model for students, but when the act of a person heading the department is immoral what should we do?”
Stating that celebration of Tipu Jayanti is a “black mark” on the government, he reminded that last year’s celebrations had led to violence in Madikeri and the coastal parts of the state, and this year the Education Minister himself landed a controversy.
Shettar demanded that Sait should have himself resigned on moral grounds or Chief Minister Siddaramaiah should have sacked him, but instead he has been given a clean chit even before the cyber crimes department submitted its inquiry report.
In an apparent bid to give a clean chit to Sait, Siddaramaiah had on November 14 said “prima facie” he did not feel that his colleague has committed any “mistake”. Senior BJP MLA Govinda Karajola reminded that BJP had sacked three of its ministers when similar allegations had come up against them.
In his reply, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T B Jayachandra chose to respond first on the Tipu Jayanti controversy leading to a heated exchange between the opposition and treasury benches.
He said, “BJP is a party which observes black day on the day we celebrate a national hero like Tipu.” BJP’s K G Bopaiah said Tipu was not a national hero, but a “religious fanatic”, leading to a war of words.
Hitting out at BJP, Jayachandra said BJP was a “communal party” and had no secular credentials. Accusing the government of trying to divert the issue, BJP members demanded that Sait should be removed and walked into the Well of the House. As chaos continued, Kimmane Rathnakar who was in the Chair adjourned the House for ten minutes.
As the House resumed, BJP continued its dharna from the Well shouting slogans “sack Tanvir Sait”, to which Congress responded by shouting “anti-minority BJP”.
When repeated attempts by the Chair to bring normalcy in the House failed, it was adjourned till tomorrow. BJP leaders have said that they will continue their protest in the House tomorrow as well.