Former Karnataka CM and state president of the Janata Dal (Secular) H D Kumaraswamy waded into a controversy with the emergence of an audio-recording regarding nomination to a seat in the state Legislative Council.
The audio in which Kumaraswamy is purportedly heard negotiating a Rs 25-crore price to nominate Vijugouda Patil, a JD(S) functionary from Bijapur, to the legislative council, surfaced on some television channels on Saturday. Kumaraswamy is purportedly heard demanding Rs 1 crore for each of the 40 JD(S) legislators to nominate and vote Patil into the council. Kumaraswamy later scales down to Rs 25 crore.
Kumaraswamy, however, did not deny the veracity of the recording and admitted having conducted the negotiations. Calling it a “reality of life and politics’’, he stated that he had not been caught on camera accepting money and could not be prosecuted. “This practice exists in all political parties. If TV channels want to run this for days to raise their TRPs they are free to do so,’’ Kumaraswamy said.
The JD(S) did not nominate Vijugouda Patil to the Legislative Council last month when seven vacancies were filled. The party instead choose wealthy Bangalore jeweller T A Sharavana as its nominee. The party also nominated multi-millionaire real estate baron Kupendra Reddy to the Rajya Sabha with the tacit support of the Congress who did not field a candidate against Reddy.
Following the elections to the Vidhan Parishad and Rajya Sabha last month, Kumaraswamy had taken his 40 legislators on a holiday to Colombo. The trip was reportedly sponsored by the wealthy candidates who were nominated by the party to Rajya Sabha and Vidhan Parishad.
In the run up to the Legislative Council elections BJP leader and the chairman of the council D H Shankaramurthy had stated at a public meeting in Shimoga that the going price for a seat in the Karnataka legislative council was around Rs 12 crore. He said that anyone willing to cough up the amount could become a member of the Vidhan Parishad.
“If a cat drinks milk closing its eyes it does not mean that the entire world is not watching it drink the milk. A mistake is a mistake. Corruption is corruption. To say other parties are also doing it is not a defence,’’ Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said on Sunday.
A pragmatic Kumaraswamy has in the past claimed that a regional political outfit like the JD(S) which has no major sources of funding like the national parties has to resort to various tactics to generate the funds when out of power.