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PC, Moily back governor

New Delhi, Jan. 22: P. Chidambaram today gave the BJP a piece of his mind as he rallied behind the Karnataka governor’s decision to sanction chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa’s prosecution for alleged involvement in land scams.

Within the first working hour on the weekend, the home minister issued a statement “to set out the constitutional and legal position” of the government.

“It is not the first time that a governor has given his sanction to prosecute a chief minister or a minister of the state government. The law in this respect is clear and well-settled,” he said, backing governor H.R. Bharadwaj.

A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court had upheld the governor’s order, Chidambaram said. He also asked the BJP to note that the Lokayukta of Karnataka, Justice (retd) Santosh Hegde, had observed that the governor had the jurisdiction to sanction Yeddyurappa’s prosecution. “I am, therefore, disappointed that the BJP has raised the decibel level and has taken to the streets. This is not correct and is totally unacceptable,” he said.

In Mumbai, Union law minister Veerappa Moily, too, spoke for Bharadwaj. He said the governor had done nothing wrong in sanctioning Yeddyurappa’s prosecution. “The BJP is defending a corrupt man,” he said.

“The BJP had once asked him (Yeddyurappa) to step down but is now defending him. This is a travesty of justice.”

The BJP’s Karnataka MPs will leave for Delhi tomorrow to protest the prosecution decision. On Monday, senior leaders, with the possible exception of Sushma Swaraj and L.K. Advani, would march to Rashtrapati Bhavan and meet the President.

Chidambaram’s stand seemed to suggest that the Congress-led government was not unduly worried about rubbing the Lingayats — Yeddyurappa is one — the wrong way, and wanted the positive echo of its actions to reach Delhi. Bharadwaj appeared to have taken the step in accordance with top Congress leaders’ wishes.

Chidambaram has asked home secretary G.K. Pillai to speak to the state chief secretary and police chief to ensure prosecution takes place.

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