Seeking to fend off the opposition onslaught, the Siddaramaiah government in Karnataka on Wednesday announced a judicial probe into the alleged suicide by a DySP, which has put the ruling Congress in a tight corner.
As the issue rocked the Assembly since Monday, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah announced in the House an enquiry by a judicial commission, which would come out with its report in six months.
With government refusing to budge on its demand for a CBI probe, both BJP and JDS began a day-night protest in the House insisting on an enquiry by the central agency and sacking of minister K J George, named by deceased official M K Ganapathy along with two top police officials for his extreme step.
After the CM's reply, BJP members made it clear they will protest until George is dropped and entered the well of the House, followed by JD(S) MLAs demanding that an FIR be lodged in connection with the case first.
Following this, Speaker K B Koliwad adjourned the House till tomorrow, but BJP and JD(S) remained in the Well.
"We, both BJP and JD(S), will continue our day-night dharna inside the House, until our demands are met. Until George is dropped, FIR is registered and action is taken against the officials named," Opposition Leader Jagadish Shettar told reporters here at a joint press conference.
Former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy said this is a joint protest being staged by both BJP and JD(S).
A similar protest is being planned by both parties in the legislative council as well.
Ganapathy (51) was found hanging from the ceiling fan in a room at a lodge in Madikeri on July 7, prior to which he gave an interview to a local TV channel, saying the minister and A M Prasad (IG-Intelligence) and Pranab Mohanty (IGP- Lokayukta) would be responsible "if anything happens to me."
The case is currently being investigated by CID.
Earlier, in his marathon reply to the discussion on the alleged suicide, Siddaramaiah said "though we have full faith in CID and its investigation, government has decided to hand over the case to a judicial commission."
The commission, headed by a retired High Court judge, would complete the probe in six months and submit its report, he said.
"We are voluntarily constituting a judicial enquiry commission in this case," he added.
Coming out in full support of George, Siddaramaiah said the minister had not indulged in politics of revenge as alleged by Ganapathy, in his political career.
Rejecting charges levelled by Ganapathy in the interview, he said, "it is wrong to say that George was prejudiced about him and no prudent person will accept it as he was given executive postings when George was Home Minister."
Also trying to defend officials named by Ganapathy, he said these allegations are "difficult to believe" and are "unclear" and "irrelevant".
The Chief Minister also said that the TV interview that Ganapathy gave before his death would not amount to his dying declaration.
Stating that there is "not even an iota of evidence" to the allegations made by Ganapathy, he said the accusation of harassment is unbelievable.
"I don't know why he made such statements."
He also said he would express regret if Home Minister G Parameshwara's statement in the House about family discord being the reason for the alleged suicide had pained Ganapathy's wife.
The statement was a verbatim reproduction of the complaint filed by Ganapathy's father Kushalappa.
The opposition has criticized the government for not registering a case under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code (Abetment of suicide).
A case of unnatural death has been registered under CrPC section 174.
As Siddarmaiah announced a judicial probe by retired High Court judge, Shettar said, "if you want to announce a judicial probe, write to the Chief Justice and hand over the inquiry to the judge appointed by him or else give it to CBI."
Shettar also accused the CM of playing politics by using the communal card to protect George.
Both Siddaramaiah and George had alleged that BJP was targeting him (George) as he belongs to a minority community.
Siddarmaiah also said the suicide of another DySP Kalappa Handibag was being probed and no one would be spared.
Chikkamagalur DySP Handibag, named as accused in a kidnapping case, was found hanging in his father-in-law's house in Belagavi district on July 5.
A series of incidents involving alleged suicides by two DySps and resignation by another DySP has put the Siddaramaiah government in the line of fire of Opposition parties, which alleged that honest officials were being tormented.
The Siddaramaiah government faced the first major storm in March last year when senior IAS official D K Ravi allegedly committed suicide under mysterious circumstances, with the public and Opposition outrage forcing the government to hand over the case to the CBI.