Karnataka Food and Civil Supplies Minister Harthal Halappa resigned on Sunday after a local vernacular newspaper accused him of sexually assaulting a social worker’s wife in Shimoga four months ago.
The social worker and his wife, however, did not file a police complaint.
Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyura-ppa accepted Halappa’s resignation and asked Transport Minister R. Ashok to take charge of Halappa’s ministry — even as he called the report a ‘political conspiracy’ against his government. Shimoga, 270 km north-west of Bangalore, is both Yeddyu-rappa and Halappa’s home district.
Without naming Halappa, but throwing sufficient hints throughout its report, the newspaper claimed a cabinet minister who was a “close confidant of Yeddyurappa” made sexual advances at the wife of a social worker, while staying with the family for a night.
Halappa called the report “baseless”. He hinted his detractors in the ruling BJP could have had a hand in getting the report published.
“I am quitting on moral grounds. I don’t want to embarrass my party, partymen and the government. Let them come out with evidence to prove the charge,” he said.