AMID SPECULATION of the BJP’s involvement in the absence of seven Congress and one JD(S) MLA from the Assembly since the start of the Budget Session on Wednesday, Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy on Friday released an audio recording of a purported conversation between BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa and Sharanagouda Kandakur, son of JD(S) MLA Naganagouda Kandakur, in which the BJP leader is allegedly trying to lure him with the offer of money and a ministerial berth.
Yeddyurappa dismissed the audio clip as “fake” and said Kumaraswamy is an “expert in voice recording”.
Meanwhile, the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting on Friday decided to seek the disqualification of four MLAs — Ramesh Jarkiholi, Umesh Jadhav, Mahesh Kumathali and B Nagendra — who skipped the CLP meeting despite notices issued to them. “The CLP has decided to take further action against the MLAs who did not come today, under the anti-defection law,” CLP leader Siddaramaiah said.
Jarkiholi and Jadhav had, however, sent letters to Siddaramaiah saying they could not attend the meeting — Jarkiholi cited his daughter’s wedding while Jadhav cited personal reasons.
Of the other Congress MLAs who have stayed away from the House, K Sudhakar returned on Friday, B C Patil offered an explanation for his absence, and suspended legislator J N Ganesh, booked on attempt to murder charge after a brawl with party MLA Anand Singh, is absconding.
JD(S) MLA Narayana Gowda, who was also absent from the House, is reported to be suffering from food poisoning.
While the BJP has claimed that the ruling coalition MLAs were skipping the Budget Session due to their dissatisfaction with the functioning of the government and internal bickering, the Congress and JD(S) have accused the BJP of trying to poach their MLAs.
In the audio clip released by Kumaraswamy, hours before presenting the Budget, Yeddyurappa is purportedly trying to convince Sharanagouda Kandakur to get his 73-year-old father to quit the JD(S) and join the BJP in the next few days. A voice that sounds like Yeddyurappa is heard telling Sharanagouda to go to Mumbai and join around 10 other MLAs who will be heading there.
Naganagouda Kandakur is the JD(S) MLA from Gurmitkal in North Karnataka. The audio clip was reportedly recorded at a circuit house in Devarayadurga in North Karnataka on Thursday.
The MLA’s son is purportedly promised a ministerial post and funds for elections by a person who Kumaraswamy identified as Shivanagouda Nayak, BJP’s MLA from Devadurga. “They promised Rs 25 crore and election funds,” alleged Kumaraswamy. He said such efforts to poach JD(S) MLAs could not have been carried out without the party leadership’s sanction.
Sharanagouda, who was present at the press conference, said he had recorded the conversation and handed the recording to Kumaraswamy. “I was concerned by their efforts to topple the pro-farmer government,” he said.
Yeddyurappa dismissed the audio clip as fake. “It is a fake audio, I have not met anyone, it is a creation of the government to cover the misdeeds of the coalition. Kumaraswamy is an expert in voice recording and his statements are baseless,” he said.
But State Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao said: “They tried to lure our MLAs with exorbitant offers. The recording has shown that we were stating the truth all along’’.
“Listen to the audio that has exposed your party’s ‘niyat’,’’ Siddaramaiah tweeted, tagging Prime Minister Narendra Modi too.
“Prima facie, the voice sounds like Yeddyurappa. An investigation will show that the meeting took place on Thursday. We will complain about this and seek action,’’ said Rao. “There are more recordings… these show that Yeddyurappa and his family are involved in luring MLAs. It shows how deeply entrenched the BJP is in corruption,’’ he said.
Several BJP leaders privately said they were not in favor of such tactics to destabilise the coalition.
The BJP has ruled out a no-confidence motion against the coalition government, but claimed the government will be in jeopardy in a few days. “We are only 104 and, if you add two Independents, we are 106. The question of no-confidence does not arise,” Yeddyurappa said. The ruling coalition has 117 MLAs. Yeddyurappa alleged that Kumaraswamy had tried to lure BJP MLA Subhash Guttedar by offering a minister’s post. However, Guttedar, who was present at Yeddyurappa’s press conference, said he was not offered money. Meanwhile, there is speculation that the BJP will try to defeat the Finance Bill when it is up for passage next week, in order to destabilise the coalition government.