Karnataka Legislative Council deputy chairman found dead on

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rail track, suicide suspected (Eds: adds details) Chikkamagaluru/Bengaluru, Dec 29 (PTI) Karnataka Legislative Council Deputy Chairman S L Dharme Gowda was found dead on a rail track in Chikkamagaluru district of Karnataka in the early hours of Tuesday, with police sources claiming he died by suicide.

The body was found on a rail track near Gunasagara in Kadur taluk, they said.

Gowda was at the centre of December 15 high drama in the legislative council, which saw BJP-JDS and Congress members hurling abuses and pushing each other over a row on the no- confidence motion against Chairman K Pratapachandra Shetty.

During the ruckus Gowda was pulled down from the Chair (Chairman's seat) by some Congress legislators, who accused him of occupying it as Deputy Chairman against rules, as part of BJP's plan to unseat Shetty, who is from the Congress.

Dharme Gowda, 64, who was a JD(S) MLC, is survived by his wife, son and a daughter.

His brother, S L Bhoje Gowda, is also an MLC.

According to sources, Gowda had left his farmhouse at Sakharayapattana in a private car on Monday evening. After reaching the spot, he had asked his driver to stay at a distance and went alone on the pretext of talking to someone, they said, adding that a 'suicide note' has been recovered.

Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the body was recovered at about 1:30 am.

'Last evening around 6:30 PM, he had left his driver and staff and had gone alone on the pretext of receiving someone.

As he did not come back till 8:45 pm, his sons and brother Bhoje Gowda were informed, who then spoke to the Superintendent of police.

His last call was tracked and found to be from near the railway track,' the minister said.

Asked about the 'suicide note', Bommai said police have seized all those things and are investigating.

To a question about claims that Gowda was pained by the recent incident at the legislative council, he said, 'several matters are in it...everything will be inquired into.' According to reports, Gowda is said to have mentioned about the incident in the council in the death note.

Several political leaders,especially from JD(S),including its leader H D Kumaraswamy, have expressed apprehensions that the turn of events at the council might have led to Gowda taking such a drastic step, as he was deeply pained by it.

The body was taken to McGann Hospital in Shivamogga, before being shifted to Sakharayapattana in Chikkamagaluru to enable the public pay their respects and for the last rites.

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah and Kumaraswamy were among several political leaders who paid their last respects.

Kumaraswamy broke down as he paid his last respects.

The Karnataka government had announced that his last rites will be performed with state honours as a mark of respect for the departed soul.

Chief Minister Yediyurappa told reporters that the death of Dharme Gowda, a simple and upright politician, has shocked the entire state.

JD(S) patriarch and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, who turned emotional while expressing shock, remembered his long association with Dharme Gowda's family, since his father S R Lakshmayya's time.

Stating that recent developments might have led him to take this drastic step, he said, 'Dharme Gowda was a sensitive person.' Kumaraswamy said Dharme Gowda was like his brother and had chosen him over Congress's MLA seat offer during the 2013 assembly polls.

'I'm not ready to call this incident as a suicide..it is a murder by today's political system...for our selfish political desires we are killing honest people like him,' he said in an emotional tone.

Hinting that the recent incident at the council might have led Gowda to take the drastic step, Kumaraswamy said 'one party (Congress), despite not having majority, conducted itself illegally, while the other (BJP), with a desire to get the post (council Chairman), had put pressure on him.

'...He is not someone who does not go against the rules or laws... he was under pressure to occupy the chair.' The former CM said he had spoken to Dharme Gowda recently after getting to know from his brother that he was disturbed by the incidents in the council and tried to instill confidence in him.

'Truth should come out on what led to it. Such a thing should not happen again,' he said.

LoP and Congress leader Siddaramaiah too expressed shock over Gowda's death and said he stands with the family and friends of the departed leader in this hour of grief. PTI KSU APR ADMINISTRATOR KSU APR ADMINISTRATOR