Karnataka Water Resources Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi was embroiled in a controversy on Tuesday as a police complaint was registered against him alleging sexual harassment of a ‘job aspirant’ and issuing threats to her and family of dire consequences. Even as social activist Dinesh Kallahalli approached the Bengaluru Police Commissioner Kamal Pant, some news channels started airing Jarkiholi’s purported intimate videos and photographs with the ‘job aspirant.’ It is not yet known how old is the video.
After meeting Pant, Kallahalli told reporters he has been asked to approach the Cubbon Park Police Station to lodge the complaint and to get an FIR registered there. He later filed a complaint at Cubbon Park in central Bengaluru.
Kallahalli said the woman did not wish to come out in the open and approached him to lodge a complaint alleging the minister exploited her by offering a job. In the complaint, Kallahalli said when the woman from a poor family approached the minister for making a short film, he had sexually exploited her by assuring a job in the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited. He alleged that when the minister got to know that the woman had the ‘CD’ (objectionable videos), he threatened her and her family.
“Since I am into social activism, they approached me with the complaint and the CD and shared all the details. Please investigate the truth of the matter, file a criminal case against the minister and provide protection to the victim,” the complaint read.
Union Minister for Coals and Mines Pralhad Joshi said he was not aware of the fact. Speaking to reporters in Hubballi, he said if a matter like this has surfaced, it must be investigated to find out the truth. He also said he would speak to Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on the matter.
With the budget session of the legislature set to be begin on March 4, the government is in a dilemma. The Congress has already begun protests demanding that the minister be sacked with the Youth Congress holding a demonstration on Tuesday evening.
Speaking to reporters late on Tuesday night, Jarkiholi said he was not aware who Kallahalli is. “I am willing to face any inquiry, and the legislature session,” he said.
While the CM refused to react to the allegations, his son BY Vijayendra, one of the BJP’s top strategists in Karnataka, said he was not aware of the incident either.
Another senior minister, Jagdish Shettar, said the victim herself has not given any statement or complaint so the case must be probed first.
Jarkiholi is among the 17 MLAs who had switched over from the Congress and JD(S) last year to help the BJP come to power in Karnataka. In fact, he was instrumental in other colleagues’ defecting to the saffron camp. Hence, the government is caught in a quandary on how to take action.
Such a scandal is not new to the BJP in Karnataka. Ten years ago, three ministers in the then Sadananda Gowda-led government of the BJP had been caught allegedly watching a blue film in the Assembly.
Earlier, another minister in the current cabinet had also been embroiled in a controversy after a video of him allegedly in a compromising position with a male BJP worker went viral on social media.
(With inputs from PTI)