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Why did Karnataka speaker Ramesh Kumar compare himself to a rape survivor

By Anuj Cariappa

Bengaluru, Feb 13: Karnataka assembly speaker KR Ramesh Kumar compared himself to a "rape survivor" having to undergo repeated questioning as he referred to repeated charges against him being part of the controversial audio tapes, over which government has announced a special investigative team or an SIT.

Karnataka assembly speaker KR Ramesh Kumar

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".

A day before, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy had announced an SIT probe into the audio clip in which BJP Karnataka chief BS Yeddyurappa is reportedly heard luring a JD(S) legislator in what the Congress-JD(S) government describes as the party's attempt to topple their coalition.

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Kumaraswamy had accepted an "advice" by an emotional speaker to constitute an SIT to probe the episode to "establish the truth" as his name has also 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 today 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 on 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.

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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."

Claiming complete confidence of the Congress and JD(S) legislators, Kumaraswamy spoke of the need to amend the anti-defection law and said if an elected legislator resigns, he should not be allowed to contest elections for five years.

The chief minister said 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.

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