Karnataka minister demands ‘probe into private lives of all MLAs’, kicks off a row

Most top leaders of the Opposition, including Siddaramaiah, HD Kumaraswamy, and DK Shivakumar, hit back strongly after Sudhakar's statement.

Karnataka Health and Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar found himself in the midst of a controversy Wednesday after he demanded an “investigation into the private lives” of all legislators in the Assembly, daring the Opposition to come clean on their “illicit or extra-marital affairs”.

As the row escalated, Sudhakar later said his statement was “misrepresented” and that he “regrets it if it hurt anyone.”

Sudhakar had said during an interaction with reporters on Wednesday, “Can Siddaramaiah, (DK) Shivakumar.., (HD) Kumaraswamy or even (KR) Ramesh Kumar come clean on issues that are being raised in the Assembly for the last three days?…Leaders from Congress and JD(S) are projecting themselves as ‘maryada purushas (well-behaved gentlemen) and ‘Sri Ramachandras’… let there be an investigation on this for all 225 MLAs, as none is untouched by this. Let it be proved who has had illicit relationships or not, including me.”

Sudhakar, the MLA from Chikkaballapura, was responding to Congress MLAs — including Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah — demanding the resignation of him and five other ministers on moral grounds after they obtained an injunction from court on media broadcast of any CD or other material likely to defame them.

Most top leaders of the Opposition, including Siddaramaiah, HD Kumaraswamy, and DK Shivakumar, hit back strongly after Sudhakar’s statement.

While Siddaramaiah condemned the remark saying it “could have been avoided as it affects the sanctity of the House”, Shivakumar said he has “only one wife and one family.”

Kumaraswamy said such remarks were “uncalled for”. He questioned, “…why has he (Sudhakar) taken my name today? Neither me nor any of my family members, including former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, have tried to corner our opponents raising this (extra-marital affairs) issue.” The JD(S) leader added that such issues would not have come up for discussion if the ministers had chosen not to take an injunction from court.

Later in the evening, Sudhakar issued a statement saying his words were “misinterpreted”.

“My words, which were expressed due to anguish against the prejudiced statements of Opposition leaders, have been misinterpreted and blown out of proportion. I have high regards for all legislators. It was only a response to those leaders who were trying to defame the 17 of us (who joined the BJP, toppling the previous Congress-JD(S) government) and was not intended to hurt legislators,” he said.

Responding to comments on why the gag order was sought in the wake of the Ramesh Jarkiholi scandal, he explained, “Seeking protection from the court is every citizen’s right and this is neither the first such incident nor will it be the last. Despite knowing this, some senior leaders are deliberately trying to defame us and destroy our political career.” The minister further requested people not to take his statement literally.

The six ministers who have been under constant criticism by the Congress for the past few days are Shivaram Hebbar, B C Patil, S T Somashekar, K C Narayana Gowda, and Byrathi Basavaraj, apart from Sudhakar. They had defected to the BJP in 2019, helping it come to power in Karnataka.

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