India

Ex-Karnataka chief minister Yeddyurappa acquitted in bribery case

ndia's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) senior leader and newly elected Member of parliament (MP) B.S. Yeddyurappa arrives at parliament in New Delhi on May 20, 2014. Image copyright AFP
Image caption B S Yeddyurappa is the face of the BJP in southern Karnataka state

A court has acquitted the former chief minister of south Indian Karnataka state, BS Yeddyurappa, in a corruption case.

He was accused of accepting kickbacks for selling government land during his tenure between 2008 and 2011.

The court also acquitted his two sons and son-in-law in the bribery case.

He is credited with giving his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a foothold in southern India after forming the party's first government in the region.

The BJP heads India's federal government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but has not traditionally had a strong presence in the south of the country.

Prosecutors had accused Mr Yeddyurappa of accepting kickbacks worth 400m rupees ($5,987,335; £4,904,260).

He told reporters on Wednesday that he was "happy with the judgement" and felt "vindicated".

"I will now be able to campaign freely to bring my party [back] to power in Karnataka,'' he said.

Correspondents say Mr Yeddyurappa's acquittal will boost the BJP's chances of winning upcoming state elections in 2018.

He has, however, had a troubled relationship with his party.

He became the BJP's first chief minister in south India in November 2007 with the support of the regional JDS party.

But the alliance did not last long and he had to resign after a few days. However, he led his party to a full majority in 2008.

But he had to resign from his post again after allegations of corruption against him became public.

He also quit the BJP in the following year, only to return as its state president in 2013.

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