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Mixing porn and politics?

By Sara Sidner, CNN
February 8, 2012 -- Updated 2036 GMT (0436 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Three state ministers resign after video surfaces
  • It shows them watching what appears to be video of a sex act on a cell phone
  • The three deny the allegation but said they resigned to protect their party, the BJP

New Delhi (CNN) -- It isn't everyday that video from inside a routine legislative session causes an uproar big enough to force three politicians to resign all at once but that is just what happened in South India after video surfaced of Indian ministers watching what appeared to be video of a sex act on a cell phone during a debate in the house assembly.

Two Karnataka State Ministers C.C. Patil and Laxman Savadi are being accused of watching porn when they were supposed to be doing the people's work.

A third minister who resigned allegedly owned the cell phone with the lewd images on it.

All three men deny the allegation but they have all turned in their resignations saying they did not want to embarrass their political party.

"We told our government and our party we don't want to be seen as criminals so we're happy to resign." Savadi told a crowd of reporters.

Patil, whose job it is to look after women and children's development in the state, added, "We are requesting the speaker to conduct an inquiry. I hope we will come out with a clean chit."

The video of the ministers watching the cell phone video is topping newscasts across India. Local television news photographers who routinely attend the assembly meetings captured the images.

Photographers noticed two ministers looking down at a cell phone and zoomed in to the screen to reveal what appeared to be several people involved in a sex act.

Throughout the assembly meeting the ministers continued to look at images on two cell phones. The video also showed a minister flicking through a half dozen photographs of young women's faces while a debate raged over a local issue.

Savadi defended himself saying he was not looking at porn but watching video of a women being raped by several men in an effort to prepare for a discussion on the dangers of rave dance parties that occur in the state.

As the minister of Women and Children development, Patel made headlines in Southern India recently after being quoted saying the rise in rape cases in his state had to do with women being scantily clad.

The timing of the scandal could hurt India's largest opposition party to the Congress Party-led government. The three ministers are all members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This is happening as citizens in India's most populous state begin voting in state elections.

Karnataka's Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda said, "The ministers have not made any mistakes. They have voluntarily submitted their resignation, and I have accepted that."

The three ministers are calling for an investigation saying it will clear their names but for the time being they are stepping down.

CNN's Sumnima Udas contributed to this report.

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