Bangalore: Karnataka Lokayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde, who has prepared a damning indictment of Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa and others on the mining scam, on Saturday pinned his hopes on the Supreme Court for action on the report which he will present to the Government and not the Governor.

Hegde, who demits office on August 2, said his endeavour is to submit the report on Monday or Tuesday but indicated that there could be some delay.

"Government will not act on it (the report)", Hegde told PTI in an interview. "But my only hope is Supreme Court," he said.

Hegde said the Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) has taken his first report on illegal mining submitted in December 2008, and "relied upon it" and he expects it to do it this time as well.

Hegde, however, said it was not mandatory for the Government to accept his report, which has raised a political storm after the leaked document strongly indicted Yeddyurappa.

Sources in the Lokayukta said the final report on the mining scam will not be submitted to Bhardwaj as it was the Government which referred the case to the former Supreme Court judge and not the Governor.

Sources also said that given the uneasy relationship between Bhardwaj and Yeddyurappa, who have been often at loggerheads, Hegde does not want to land in a controversy by deviating from norms and face accusations of being biased.

But Lokayukta sources said the Governor can call for a copy of the report and make recommendations to the Government on what it needs to do in his advisory capacity.

The Governor said yesterday "...And if as a competent authority (the Governor), if he (the Lokayukta) sends the report to me, then I will deal with it according to the Lokayukta Act (section 12 and 13)".

"I will give my serious thought to whatever he (Lokayukta) recommends and you will know my action the moment I get the report", Bhardwaj had said.

Lokayukta has indicted Yeddyurappa and four other ministers on illegal mining, which the anti-corruption watchdog says caused a loss of Rs 1,800 crore to the state exchequer in 14 months from March 2009. Four ministers, including three from the mineral-rich Bellary district, have also been indicted by the Lokayukta.

Hegde said the apex court is monitoring the illegal activity in mining area in Karnataka and it has expressed very strongly that they (the government) completely stop mining in Bellary.

"And I have evidence and other things of illegality going on in Bellary; I have put it in my report. And I am sure the CEC which is collaborating with us (Karnataka Lokayukta) also... Their object is the same as mine (of) curbing illegal mining. They may take the report (to be submitted next week) and place it before the Supreme Court," he added.

Hegde, a member of the joint drafting committee on the Lokpal bill, appeared not surprised by Chief Minister’s statement that there was no need for him to resign.

"...and each one when it comes to respective politicial parties... when it comes to their personal conduct and all that... they will justify it anyway (that they have done no wrong)", he said.

Hegde was in agreement that it’s not mandatory for the Government to accept his report. "Lokayukta report will only recommend what’s happened and what should be done about it, and anybody who is accountable or responsible should take action on that..." .

Based on the information in the report, he said Lokayukta can certainly prosecute those who had been named in it but added that the first opportunity is for the Government to act upon it. "If criminal activities are noticed, liability is noticed, we can prosecute" but it’s "left to the next man (his successor)".

Asked if he is convinced that the State Government is behind his phone-tapping, Hegde said: "I would not say Government; but political party might be there (behind the phone-tapping)...I don't know, that I don't want to comment...I don't want to talk about it. I don't want to join issue on phone tapping".

Hegde early this week said his phone had been tapped.

Demand for BSY removal emerges from within BJP

Demand for the removal of Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa on Saturday emerged from within the BJP in the wake of the Lokayukta indicting him in his report on illegal mining in the state.

BJP vice-president and former in-charge of Karnataka Shanta Kumar has written a letter to party president Nitin Gadkari and senior leader L K Advani demanding that Yeddyurappa be removed immediately in the wake of his indictment by the Lokayukta.

"I have stated in my letter that due to Yeddyurappa's continuance in office, the image of the BJP throughout the country was getting tarnished. We have compromised long enough. We should not wait any longer and go for a change of leadership," Kumar said.

Kumar, who is currently holidaying in Goa, said he could no longer bear reports about corruption in the Karnataka government and was forced to write this letter.

"When I was in-charge of Karnataka and the charges against Yeddyurappa were made the last time (of out-of-turn land allotment to his sons) I had suggested to the party to remove him. When this did not happen I asked to be freed of my responsibilities," Kumar said. A senior BJP leader, preferring anonymity, said that so far Yeddyurappa has been able to hold onto his chair as there were no reports till now which would directly indict him and the earlier charges were mere allegations.

With the report of Lokayukta Santosh Hegde, which is likely to be submitted to the Karnataka Chief Secretary soon, Yeddyurappa's continuance could become untenable, the leader noted.

However, officially the BJP has been evading questions on Yeddyurappa's fate, saying it will respond only after the Lokayukta report is made public.

After Kumar, the voices within the party seeking his removal are likely to grow stronger with several top leaders of the party feeling not removing him would considerably weaken BJP's fight against corruption.

BJP's big plans of taking on the UPA government on the issue of corruption in the forthcoming session of Parliament would be dented if Yeddyurappa stays as chief minister.

"How will we fight against corruption if we compromise on Yeddyurappa. The water has now risen above the danger level. By not changing the chief minister in one state, BJP's image is being tainted across the country," Kumar said.

Yeddyurappa, the first BJP Chief Minister in a southern state, has survived all attacks against him in the last three years since he came to power by convincing the party top brass that he has the support of the majority of his party MLAs.

The 68-year-old chief minister is the most prominent Lingayat leader of the BJP in Karnataka and the party has been wary of antagonising the community by removing him.

However, the BJP has to finally take a call on Yeddyurappa's continuance to carry on its fight against corruption.

Cong to target BJP in Monsoon session

B S Yeddyurappa could become the albatross round the neck of BJP if it failed to remove the Karnataka Chief Minister by the monsoon session of Parliament beginning August one.

This appears to be the feeling in Congress circles which say the party and the government would be a "relieved" lot if BJP does not dump Yeddyurappa in the wake of indictment by Lokyaukta in the illegal mining issue.

"If Yeddyurappa is not removed, Congress will be targetting the BJP on the issue in monsoon session whenever it will raise the scams and scandals concerning the government. We will say we have taken action, but you have not," a senior Congress leader, who declined to be identified, said.

Yeddyurappa, who is currently abroad, has dismissed resignation demands from Congress and the Left parties.

Congress feels that the next one week could be utilised fully by the BJP to grapple with the fallout of the illegal mining issue and if it failed to do so, it would not be in a position in Parliament to attack Congress and the government.

BJP, it is felt, has a delicate task on hand given the fact that Yeddyurappa is no pushover and has entrenched himself in power. The senior leader said that the difficult task before the BJP was to effect a change in Karnataka without losing power there.

Yeddyurappa government has completed three years in office and the BJP victory then in Karnataka was referred to as saffron getway to South.

The BJP has so far evaded questions on whether the party would take action against Yeddyurappa, saying it will respond only after the report is complete and is submitted.

'Karnataka Govt has not ordered tapping of Lokayukta's phone'

Karnataka government on Friday asserted it had not ordered tapping of telephone of Lokayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde, who has now hinted at the possible involvement of a political party behind it.

"Government has not ordered (tapping of Hegde's phone)", Chief Secretary S V Ranganath told PTI when contacted. "We have not authorised anything".

When told about the Government position, Hegde said: "Is phone tapping of this type authorised? Do you think that the Government will officially, on record, say that you tap the telephone of Lokayukta?".
    
Speaking in general terms, he said everybody knows that phone tapping is going on in a big way by various organisations and special investigation agencies.

Asked if he is convinced that the State Government is behind his phone-tapping, Hegde, a former Supreme Court Judge, said: "I would not say Government; but political party might be there (behind the phone-tapping)...I don't know, that I don't want to comment...I don't want to talk about it. I don't want to join issue on phone tapping".

The disclosure of the Lokayukta earlier this week that his phone had been tapped and coming as it did after his second and final report on the mining scam in Karnataka was leaked, has raised a political storm, with Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa and four ministers being indicted. The opposition Congress today staged a dharna at Freedom Park here, demanding Yeddyurappa's resignation, holding him responsible for the phone-tapping, and a CBI probe into it.
   
Karnataka Home Minister R Ashoka had said yesterday he came to know about the phone-tapping only through the media, and there was no complaint from the Lokayukta.

Responding to this, Hegde said he does not want to lodge a complaint on telephone-tapping as he does not want to "divert the issues (from mining scam)". He also said he is looking forward to settle down in a relaxed manner post-retirement (August two).

Hegde also said the "complaint will not end anywhere because I know something about phone-tapping. This (if one lodges complaint) never ends. It will be one man's voiceagainst people's voice".

(Agencies)