This Protest Against Karnataka Government Included A Sleepover, Bhajans

Karnataka legislators spend night in assembly in protest against home minister KJ George

Bengaluru: Opposition legislators in Karnataka spent a night in the assembly, sang bhajans and did not miss their morning jog as they tried a new way of shaming the Congress government into acceding to their demand - a proper investigation into the suicide of a police officer who had named state minister KJ George.

Some 40 lawmakers of the opposition BJP and Janata Dal Secular went with blankets and pillows last night to the Vidhan Souda or assembly building in Bengaluru. In various images, they were seen sitting, chatting or sleeping at the well or centre of the house, where they are usually seen shouting slogans.

They also sang bhajans or religious songs during the all-nighter.

The opposition said the "protest sleepover" was aimed at pushing for Mr George's resignation and a CBI investigation into the suicide of police officer SP Ganapathy. Amid anger, the government yesterday ordered a judicial inquiry which, the opposition says, is not enough.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah was unmoved as he reasserted: "Why will the BJP not trust the judicial commission? They need to believe in the judiciary."

Mr Ganapathy, a Deputy Superintendent, was in his uniform and with his service revolver fastened to his belt when he was found hanging last week inside a lodge in the Kodagu district, about 270 km from the capital of Bengaluru.

In a TV interview before his death, the 51-year-old declared that "if anything happens" to him, those who should be held responsible include Urban Development Minister KJ George, who was earlier home minister of the state.

Mr Ganapathy was being investigated after charges of corruption and fake encounters or extra-judicial killings. Mr George is accused of harassing him when he was home minister.

The minister denied any wrongdoing and said it was the cop who met him two years ago asking for an inquiry against him to be dropped.

"I am a Congress man. If they got any evidence against me, let them produce it. I have not done anything wrong," Mr George said today.

The police officer's suicide - the second in a span of three days - comes at a time the Siddaramaiah government has been struggling to contain dissidence and negative sentiment, with the state election just two years away. Karnataka is the only big state that the Congress rules, after its defeat in a string of state elections.