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`Public debate' leads to clash in Davangere

Staff Correspondent

Renukacharya, Shanthana Gowda make allegations against each other

DAVANGERE: A "public debate" involving Renukacharya, BJP MLA from Honnali, and D.G. Shanthana Gowda, former Congress MLA, at the Honnali bus stand on Tuesday led to a clash, following their supporters throwing stones at each other.

More than 20 persons including Mr. Renukacharya, Mr. Shanthana Gowda and president of Davangere Zilla Panchayat H.B. Manjappa were arrested and released on bail. The police had to resort to lathicharge to disperse the mob.

Following allegations made by Congress leaders that he had indulged in corruption, Mr. Renukacharya had told Mr. Shanthana Gowda that they would discuss the issue at a public debate what they had contributed to Honnali as MLAs.

Mr. Shanthana Gowda had accepted the challenge and he, along with the zilla panchayat president, had come to the bus stand where Mr. Renukacharya had called them to participate in the public debate.

Mr. Renukacharya who came late to the venue told Mr. Shanthana Gowda that he was not ready to take part in the public debate according to the directions of his party. He started arguing with Mr. Shanthana Gowda over his allegations and asked the latter to prove his charges.

Mr. Shanthana Gowda said that he had sufficient documents and asked Mr. Renukacharya to participate in the debate.

Accusations

They started making allegations and counter-allegations and their supporters too started accusing each other. The police intervened and asked them to disperse as Section 144 had been clamped in the town since morning.

Sonia Narang, Superintendent of Police, Davangere district, who has been camping at Honnali since Monday, told The Hindu that the police had resorted to lathicharge when repeated appeals to disperse had fallen on deaf ears and some workers had started pelting stones. She said that the police had informed both Mr. Renukacharya and Mr. Shanthana Gowda that Section 144 had been clamped and asked them not to take part in the debate. A cold war has been on between the two for some time and they had abused each other at different meetings.

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