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Karnataka assembly speaker compares himself to rape survivor amid audio tapes row 

BJP's BS Yeddyurappa withdrew the nomination of BJP candidate as he wanted the election to be unanimous in order to maintain ''dignity of the Speaker's post''. Photograph:( ANI )

PTI Bengaluru, Karnataka, India Feb 13, 2019, 10.20 AM (IST)

Karnataka assembly speaker Ramesh Kumar Tuesday compared himself to a rape survivor having to undergo repeated questioning as he referred to repeated charges against him being part of the controversial audio tapes, over which government has constituted an SIT.

The speaker made the intervention during the discussions in the assembly over the Special Investigation Team probe into an audio clip showing BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa in a purported conversation to lure a JD(S) MLA in his alleged attempt to topple the Congress-JDS government.

The Speaker, pointing to repeated reference to charges against him, said his "situation was like that of a rape victim, as they too are supposedly questioned about the incident repeatedly."

Kumaraswamy on Monday had announced a comprehensive SIT probe into the audio clip.

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He had accepted an "advice" by an emotional Speaker to constitute SIT to probe the episode to "establish the truth" as his name has also been dragged with the charge that he had been "booked" for Rs 50 crore.

The stand-off between the government and opposition continued in the assembly Tuesday over an SIT probe into the audio clip.

Kumaraswamy on Monday had announced a comprehensive SIT probe into the audio clip.

He had accepted an "advice" by an emotional Speaker to constitute the Special Investigation Team to probe the episode to "establish the truth" as his name has also been dragged with the charge that he had been "booked" for Rs 50 crore.

The Speaker called for a meeting of floor leaders on Wednesday to resolve the issue, as the BJP stuck to its strong opposition to the SIT, saying it could be used for "political vengeance."

He decided to convene the meeting at the end of the day-long discussion on the issue for the second consecutive day in the Assembly, with both the ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition and opposition BJP refusing to budge from their positions.

"Let's discuss and try to find a solution," the Speaker announced as he adjourned the assembly proceedings to Wednesday morning.

The Speaker's decision came after Yeddyurappa, the leader of the opposition, pointed out that no effort was made by the Chair to seek the opinion of the opposition before deciding on the investigation agency to inquire into the case.

"SIT is being imposed upon us forcefully," he said.

Yeddyurappa expressed apprehensions about the SIT as it comes under the Chief Minister and said he was firm on his stand to quit politics if it was proved he was present during conversations between the persons in the audio on a "Rs 50 crore offer to book" the Speaker, as alleged by Kumaraswamy.

Accusing the Chief Minister of hatching a conspiracy against him by "twisting facts", he said Kumaraswamy has released the audio partially, to save his seat.

The BJP has objected to the SIT and insisted on constituting a House committee or a judicial probe. They also said that the probe cannot be conducted by an agency that is under the Chief Minister as he too was a party in the case.

The political war over charges of horse-trading had escalated in Karnataka on Friday with Kumaraswamy releasing the audio clip.

As the House met for the day, opposition members requested the Chair to reconsider the decision to hand over the probe to the SIT.

Several BJP members, including Yeddyurappa, demanded a probe by house committee or judicial inquiry into the matter.