Bangalore: Facing imminent arrest, former Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa on Saturday surrendered before a Lokayukta court here and was sent to jail for a week after he was issued an arrest warrant in connection with alleged land scams.

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                  The rise and fall of Yeddyurappa

On a day of high drama, the 68-year-old BJP leader, who resigned as Chief Minister on July 31 in the wake of his indictment by the Lokayukta in illegal mining scam, turned up in the court even as a team of police officials went to his house for arresting him.

Yeddyurappa is the first former Chief Minister of Karnataka to go to jail and the development has come as a major embarrassment to BJP whose leader L K Advani is on a countrywide campaign against corruption.

Significantly, Karnataka, where Yeddyurappa had headed the first government of BJP in the South, does not figure in Advani's campaign yatra.

Acting on a complaint by two lawyers against Yeddyurappa for alleged irregularities in denotification of lands during his tenure as chief minister, special Lokayukta Judge N K Sudhindra Rao rejected his bail application.

The former Chief Minister had failed to appear before the court while his sons B Y Raghavendra, MP, and B Y Vijendra as also his son-in-law Sohan Kumar appeared in the court and got bail.

The judge remanded Yeddyurappa to judicial custody till October 22. His lawyer M B Naik had earlier said they would challenge the Lokayukta court order in the High Court.

Another accused, former minister S N Krishnaiah Setty, was also remanded to judicial custody till October 22 by the judge who also granted bail BJP MLA Hemachandra Sagar and 10 others in the case. Rejecting the bail pleas of Yeddyurappa and Setty on the grounds of gravity of their offence, the court said the involvement of both in the alleged irregularities in denotification of lands was 'all-pervading'.

It said since they were powerful and influential people, they could put pressure on the witnesses and tamper with evidence.

Earlier, reading out his order in a packed court, the judge said he has rejected the bail pleas of Yeddyurappa and Setty but allowed those of 14 others.

Shortly after Yeddyurappa surrendered, a Lokayukta police team, headed by its Deputy Superintendent of Police Prasanna Raju, escorted him to Parappana Agrahara Central Prison on the city outskirts.

The court also rejected the applications moved by Yeddyurappa seeking exemption from personal appearance on grounds that he was suffering from severe back pain and unable to take the stairs.

The judge directed Yeddyurappa's family members to furnish a bond for Rs five lakh and Rs 10 lakh as surety in the two cases for their bail and also submit to the court a chartered accountant-certified copies of  bank accounts of Davalagiri Properties and Adarsh Homes Pvt Limited owned by them.

The court directed the remaining accused freed on bail to furnish a bond for Rs five lakh and slapped conditions that they should not tamper with evidence and not make any attempt
to flee the country.

Setty collapsed as the court pronounced the order. Seeing his condition, the judge directed officials to provide proper treatment before taking him to jail.

Minutes after learning about the court order, Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda cancelled his trip to Mumbai and was closetted with some of his ministerial colleagues, including Home Minister R Ashoka.

Lawyer Srijan Basha, on whose complaint the court acted against Yeddyurappa, had alleged that the former Chief Minister denotified lands in Arakere, Agara, Devarachikkanahalli, Geddalahalli in favour of the accused causing huge losses to the state exchequer.

People gathered in large number outside Yeddyurappa's Race Course residence as a police team entered with the arrest warrant.

Earlier, Yeddyurappa rushed to a temple to invoke the blessings of the Gods and appeared before the court before the sitting ended for the day.

Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda summoned Bangalore City Police Commissioner Jyoti Prakash Mirji and held discussions with him on law and order issues.

BJP to support Yeddyurappa legally

On the backfoot following Yeddyurappy's arrest in a corruption case against him, BJP said it would support their leader legally but would adopt no tolerance towards graft.

"It is a legal issue. We will certainly fight the issue legally. We will be there legally but BJP will adopt zero tolerance towards corruption," Party spokesman J P Nadda told reporters in New Delhi on Saturday.

He said the moment Yeddyurappa's name appeared in the Lokayukta report the party decided to seek his resignation on moral grounds.

BJP also attacked Congress accusing it of having no moral right to talk or comment on the issue of corruption as it was "deeply entrenched in corruption."

"Congress has no moral right to comment on Yeddyurappa's bail plea as it was deep-neck involved in corruption," said Nadda.

The BJP leader alleged Congress leaders were involved in many scams but the party had not taken any action against them.

He cited Goa mining scam, 2G spectrum allocation scam, Adarsh Housing Scam besides alleged irregularities in holding of last year's Commonwealth Games.

Nadda charged Congress has not acted in any of the scams against any of its leaders whose names have cropped up. "The Congress is silent on so many issues where its leaders are
involved. It has no moral right to comment on Yeddyurappa," he said.

He said "inaction" by Congress or the UPA government in these scams "clearly shows that Congress and UPA are not serious on corruption."

The BJP leader claimed the party has always played a pro-active role in fighting corruption and will continue doing so. Talking about Uttar Pradesh, Nadda charged Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party and Congress are hand in glove with each other. "BSP and SP have bailed out the UPA government at the Centre and their nexus is very clear."

Congress slams BJP morality

With a Lokayukta court sending Yeddyurappa to judicial custody in corruption cases, Congress went on the offensive against the BJP, saying the development spoke volumes of the morality practised by it.

It is the "obduracy" of the BJP that prevents similar cases in the party from going down the same slippery slope, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told reporters in New Delhi on Saturday.

Noting that Yeddyurappa had been found prima facie not entitled to bail by the court, he said, "It speaks volume of the morality practised by the BJP constantly preaching without practice."

He said, "The court order against Yeddyurappa is clearly yet another reiteration of BJP's very severe indictments... you are familiar to this fact."

Singhvi said that for the past two years, there had been very serious charges against Yeddyurappa and demands for his removal as Chief Minister.

"But (at that time) BJP never could gather courage to remove him. Finally, when he quit as CM, he decided the date, the timing and the manner in which to make the exit," he said.

Earlier, another Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said it was ironical that Yeddyuruppa is fighting for bail in a corruption case at a time when the BJP is undertaking an anti-corruption yatra across the country.

"Perhaps it would have been far more appropriate if the anti-corruption yatra would have been first undertaken in Karnataka, Uttarakhand, and Punjab where BJP ministers and functionary have been indicted on charges of corruption," Tewari said.

(JPN/Agencies
)