Karnataka Water Resources Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi was embroiled in a controversy on Tuesday when a social activist Dinesh Kallahalli on Tuesday approached the Bengaluru Police Commissioner Kamal Pant and demanded a detailed probe into an alleged sex scandal involving the BJP leader.
Bengaluru police began an inquiry into the allegations made by Kallahalli but are yet to register a first information report (FIR) in the case. A non-cognisable report was filed at the Cubbon Park police station in Bengaluru.
"We have taken a petition and started an inquiry. We need to ascertain certain details and enquire about the victim first. The RTI activist has not given any information regarding them. We are trying to ascertain who they are and are trying to contact them," MN Anunchet, Bengaluru Central DCP, told TNM. Police said the complaint had not revealed the identity of the woman or the source of the video.
In his complaint, Kallahalli stated that Ramesh Jarkiholi allegedly sought sexual favours from her in return for a government job. Kallahalli also shared a CD which is reported to have clips of the woman and the minister. Kallahalli said the woman approached him after she was allegedly threatened by the Minister.
Videos of the two together were aired on multiple Kannada news channels on Tuesday. The complaint stated that the woman had approached the Minister for shooting a documentary and the duo met several times. In one meeting, Ramesh Jarkiholi allegedly asked for sexual favours in return for a job at the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Ltd.
Ramesh Jarkiholi denied the allegations and claimed that the videos in the CD were edited. "I am shocked to see this. Let the investigation happen and let the truth come out," he told a private channel. He said he will leave for Delhi to meet central BJP leaders.
Senior BJP leaders including Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa are yet to react to the controversial allegations.
Ramesh Jarkiholi is one of 17 MLAs who left the Congress-JD(S) combine and defected to the BJP, a move that led to the collapse of the coalition government and paved the way for the BS Yediyurappa-led BJP government to come to power in 2019.
Jarkiholi was subsequently elected as an MLA from the BJP and was made the Water Resources Minister in the current cabinet. The controversy also comes ahead of the bye-elections to the Belagavi Lok Sabha constituency. It fell vacant in 2020 following the death of Suresh Angadi, the then Minister of State for Railways in the Union government, due to COVID-19.