Karnataka’s water resources minister Ramesh Jarkiholi resigned from his post on Wednesday after a CD purportedly showing him seeking sexual favours from a woman emerged on Tuesday. The BJP leader maintained that the allegations were fake but said he was quitting on moral grounds.
“The allegations are far from the truth. There should be an immediate investigation into this. I believe that I am innocent but I resign on moral grounds. Kindly accept my resignation," he wrote in a letter.
Jarkiholi had allegedly enticed the unidentified woman in the video clip with the offer of a government job. Several Kannada television channels aired images and photos from the ‘sex CD’ that allegedly featured him in a compromising position with the woman.
There was also an intimate audio conversation between the two. During the conversation, Jarkiholi is heard luring the woman with a government job and admonishing her not to speak loudly since it is Karnataka Bhavan (in Delhi). The veracity of the clip has not been independently confirmed.
The clip has caused a major embarrassment to the BS Yediyurappa government ahead of the Budget session that starts on Thursday. Karnataka home minister Basavraj Bommai said on Wednesday that police will inquire into the allegations of sexual harassment against Jarkiholi, as the opposition Congress demanded the registration of an FIR.
Dinesh Kallahalli, a social activist, had on Tuesday lodged a police complaint against Jarkiholi, alleging that he sexually harassed the woman and threatened her and her family of dire consequences. Kallahalli claimed he was authorised by the woman to file the complaint as she did not want to make her identity public.
On Wednesday, he alleged that he will file another police complaint alleging death threats from Jarkiholi and his supporters, and has requested security for him and his family.
In his complaint to the police, Kallahalli said when the woman from a poor family had 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.
Jarkiholi told reporters that the video was “fake" and claimed he does not even know the woman. He alleged it was all part of a “large" conspiracy against him.
“I don’t even know the woman and the complainant. I was in Mysuru and went to Chamundeshwari Temple. I do not even know what that video is about because I never spoke to that woman. I am going to meet my high command to convey a clarification about the alleged video. A thorough investigation must be conducted into this issue,” he said.
The 60-year-old comes from one of the most powerful political families in the state and is a sugar baron from Belagavi district. He was formerly in the Congress and is believed to have played a key role in the defection of 17 Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) MLAs that helped the BJP come to power in the state.