On Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa’s request, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Saturday took over the investigation into the alleged phone tapping of political leaders under the watch of Congress-JD(S) government. The allegations of phone tapping surfaced in the aftermath of the trust vote in the Karnataka assembly which witnessed the collapse of the coalition government with the then chief minister HD Kumaraswamy at the helm.
Karnataka had slipped into another political turmoil merely a week after the Congress-JD(S) alliance lost the trust vote to the ruling BJP amidst allegations of horse-trading. A police probe into the surveillance allegations had revealed two weeks earlier that phones of several politicians, bureaucrats and journalists were tapped in recent months during the tenure of former chief minister Kumaraswamy.
“It has come to the notice of the government that there are apprehensions that phones of several ruling and Opposition political leaders, their relatives and other government officials have been intercepted in an illegal/unauthorised/unwanted manner,” the state home department had stated on August 19.
“The CBI will conduct a probe “into all illegal/ unwanted/ unauthorised interceptions of telephones of political leaders belonging to the ruling party and opposition parties as well as their associates relatives and also government servants from August 1, 2018 to the date of this order,” the order added.
Congress leaders, including Siddaramaiah, M Mallikarjuna Kharge and home minister in the alliance government M B Patil, had demanded an investigation while another key party leader and former minister D K Shivakumar has rejected the snooping charges.
Several BJP leaders, including former chief minister Jagadish Shettar, have directly accused Kumaraswamy of orchestrating the snooping in order to save his government from falling.
Kumaraswamy has been open to any probe to investigate the tapping incident. “Let them do any inquiry, whether it is a CBI inquiry or any other agency of international standard, or let them talk to Trump (US President Donald Trump), and get it inquired through someone from his side,” he was quoted as saying by PTI.