Prelude: ‘Even if Speaker troubles us we have planned on getting around it’
Conversation between BJP MLA Shivanagouda Nayak and JD(S) MLA Naganagouda Kandakur’s son Sharangouda. This conversation, part of the recording released by Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, took place just before their meeting with Yeddurappa at the Circuit House on the intervening night of February 7-8:
Shivanagouda Nayak: You say what you want to Sir (B S Yeddyurappa), I cannot say it. Say whether you are sure of switching sides. As far as I know, 10 have joined and tomorrow three more will join. After it becomes 15, they will all resign. Arrangement has been made for acceptance of the resignation by Ramesh Kumar (Speaker). (Rs) 50 crore.
Sharangouda Kandakur: They say he is favourable to the Congress.
Nayak: He will accept the resignation. If the resignation is given and he does not accept we will raise the issue as a constitutional crisis and go to the Governor. Governor’s rule will be imposed. They will somehow get the resignations accepted. Then the new government formation will be called for. All arrangements have been made.
Things have been done at the level of Amit Shah, Narendra Modi and the Governor – at the top level. At the High Court and Supreme Court and judges-level, things have been conveyed at Amit Shah’s level. Even if the Speaker troubles us we have planned on getting around it.
Kandakur: That is one thing I want to ask Sir (Yeddyurappa). Last time Balanna, Shivanna, Asnotikar Anand Anna were disqualified. (BJP MLAs Balachandra Jharkiholi, Shivanagouda Nayak and Anand Asnotikar and others were disqualified in 2010 by the Speaker for defecting to bring the then BJP government down. The Yeddyurappa government had survived the crisis).
Nayak: That was different. We did not care about our membership of the Assembly being taken away (then). We were adamant. They removed us from the post of ministers after we won polls and joined (BJP). They removed seven of us.
Transcript of the recording of conversation between Karnataka BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa, JD(S) Gurmitkal MLA Naganagouda Kandakur’s son Sharangouda Kandakur, BJP Devadurga MLA Sharangouda Nayak, and BJP’s Hassan MLA Preetham Gowda, where BJP leaders were purportedly trying to convince Sharangouda Kandakur to defect to BJP along with his father after quitting as MLA.
The conversation took place around 12.30 am on February 8 at the Circuit House in Devadurga, where Yeddyurappa was staying. Sharangouda was brought to Yeddyurappa’s room by the Devadurga MLA Shivanagouda Nayak, ostensibly as a leader who was interested in defecting.
The conversation took place in Kannada. The audio recording was released last week by Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy.
B S Yeddyurappa (BSY): So what are you doing now? What is your job?
Sharangouda Kandakur (SK): Nothing, sir. I am involved in this only.
Shivanagouda Nayak (SN): He is involved full-fledged in politics. He manages the entire constituency during his father’s absence.
SK: How is your health, sir?
BSY: Thank you.
SK: I heard you have come here on a religious visit?
BSY: What is your father’s age?
SK: 72-73, sir.
BSY: If things work out, will you be the one who will stand for elections?
SK: It depends on what you say, sir.
SN: He is asking if you will take your father’s place in future.
SK: It all depends on the situation, sir, and what will happen.
BSY: There is nothing to it. In about four days everything will be over — the government will fall. We will form a government. You become a minister. There is no reason for you to hesitate.
SN: He is a very dynamic leader, sir. The constituency has been won through his efforts.
BSY: There are two things. We do not have anyone in that constituency. There is no one for us in that region. There will be no problem in making you a minister. Got it? If your father wants, let him contest; you start work.
SK: Sir, I am afraid to be the only one to switch over…
BSY: Understand one thing. In any case, you will look after everything. You come to Bombay [Mumbai]. Dr Sudhakar [Congress MLA from Chikaballapur, who was missing for a day from Karnataka Assembly) has joined (us) in Bombay. He is there now. Two more (Congress MLAs) will join after the Assembly gets over tomorrow. There will be 13 to 14 people, including you. We will need one more person. We will not make promises to anyone else or give money.
Understand one more thing: no one will cause trouble. Understood? You have got a divine opportunity. Don’t hesitate. I will look after you like you are my own son. Don’t worry, leave all responsibilities to me. You just go. Once I make a promise I never betray or backtrack. I will give you cash for the elections as well…
SN: Sir, we will discuss those things with Vijayanna [possibly Vijayendra, BSY’s younger son].
BSY: Vijayanna is over there (Mumbai)…99 per cent the number will become 14-15 by tomorrow evening.
New Voice (probably that of BJP MLA Preetham Gowda): It may even go up to 20 coalition [Congress-JDS] MLAs.
SK: Sir, I am afraid to take such a risk given my father’s advanced age.
BSY: Words of people like [Conmgress leader] Siddaramaiah are not worth a penny. They are saying a whip will be issued and the MLA will be disqualified. He has been saying these lies for the last three days. The others have not cared about all this. There are 10 plus 1, which is 11 (coalition MLAs) with us. Nothing will happen to anyone.
SN: Sharanu, you will get the credit for making a Veerashaiva (Lingayat) the chief minister. You will go down in history for this. Kumaranna (Chief Minister Kumaraswamy) is not from your caste and is not worth anything. Siddaramaiah is not from the caste and not worth anything.
SK: Surely Sir.
SN: If you make a Lingayat the chief minister you will get the credit for it. You will have a long political life.
SK: When we discuss these things with other MLAs they say we will suffer like Shivanagouda did a few years ago (Devadurga MLA Shivanagouda Nayak was disqualified by the Speaker in 2010 after he was part of a rebellion by 11 BJP MLAs against the then BJP CM Yeddyurappa).
SN: No, no. That situation was different. We brought it upon ourselves – the disqualification. Sharangouda, understand that Sir (BSY) is taking responsibility for everything. His word can be trusted; he will not forget his word. We have seen it. He made me political secretary. We are the ones who wronged him at the time. He is committed, you show courage.
We will work in your constituency. We will ensure your victory.
Sir (to BSY), it is because of him that his father has won. Sir, he can manage the whole of Yadgir district. He has good organisational capacity. If we work with him there is no problem in getting him elected. You just make him a minister and he will convince his father. Just consider Raghavendra, Vijayendra (BSY’s two sons) and Sharangouda as your sons henceforth.
BSY: Look, once I give you my word there will be no changes. This is number one. You tell your father and come to Bombay. You will see for yourself.
SK: Sir, they (JDS) have called a legislature party meeting for 9.30 am tomorrow.
SN: Let your father attend the meeting. You come to Bombay; see for yourself and be convinced and return and resign as MLA.
BSY: There is no need for his father to come at all.
SN: Don’t worry. We will tackle it.
SK: Sir, our constituency is a Congress fortress. You know about it. We will need your blessings.
Another voice: Baburao has come to our side (former Congress MLA from Gulbarga region Baburao Chinchansur, who switched over to BJP in 2018). It will become easy for you.
SN: Sharangouda, the chance for you to become a minister is a consequence of the good work done for your entire life. Take a chance. We will back you completely. Raju, Venkata Reddy Mudnal and I will back you day and night for elections.
BSY: We are taking 20 people on board. We will make around 12 people,. who join us, ministers and around eight people chairmen of corporations. Those we make ministers we will give Rs 10 crore.
SK: Sir, there will be a lot of expenses for the elections.
BSY: We will give you Rs 10 crore, and we will have the government. Remember, you will be like my own son Vijayendra. I never renege on a promise. Don’t delay for a moment – just come to Bombay tomorrow.
SN: Please trust him. Naganagouda and Yeddyurappa are like your father. It will be beneficial. He is a great man. You won’t find a person like him in politics.
BSY: I have come after a temple visit and prayers. Good things will happen. You join us. Don’t lose sleep. Tell your father. There is no need for him to come.
SN: Sir, they will issue notices if we don’t attend the party meetings?
Unknown voice: There will be no legal standing for all those things.
BSY: You just come along and you will see everything for yourself. There are 10-11 people. None of them cares for the party whip or anything. It is all worthless.
SK: Would my coming there make any difference, sir?
BSY: Three more will join by tomorrow evening. You can ask your father to resign when you are convinced that everything is going well.
SN: I will take you to Bombay tomorrow. You see the situation. Then come back. Prepare your father for resignation. I will take you and make arrangements for the funds.
SK: Sir, we are from a poor family and are a middle class family. We did not achieve our political stature due to wealth but due to the goodwill towards our elders. After we stand for elections you must help us (in) every way.
BSY: After you stand for elections I will arrange for Rs 10 crore and after that you will be minister and you can earn as much as you want. The government will be ours.
SK: I will trust you, sir. But after everything is over we must not end up with nothing.
BSY: MLAs have been in Bombay for nine to 10 days. They keep coming and going.
SK: Is there anyone from the JD(S)?
Unknown voice: There is KR Pet MLA Narayanagowda.
BSY: Nobody will care for JD(S) after the government falls. When you go there you will get a clear picture.
SN: You are young, you have 30 years more in politics.
BSY: After all the formalities are over, take 10 (Rs 10 crore) and we will cover all election expenses.
SN: We will talk to Vijayanna about this.
B S Yeddyurappa: President of the Karnataka unit of the BJP and former chief minister. Pushing 75 years, he is seen as making a desperate bid to become the CM again out of apprehension that he will not be in line for the post on account of the 75-year cut-off in the BJP. Despite many of his own party colleagues not being in favour, he has been allegedly trying to poach ruling coalition MLAs, using the services of his younger son and a few second-rung BJP leaders, according to sources.
Sharanagouda Kandakur: The 35-year-old son of Naganagouda Kandakur, the JD(S) MLA from Gurmitkal constituency in north Karnataka. Sharanagouda carried out the sting operation on the BJP leaders. The Kandakurs come from the powerful Lingayat community, the same community as that of Yeddyurappa. Naganagouda’s family has a five-decade-old association with the family of former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, the JD(S) supremo. Naganagouda unsuccessfully contested the 2008 and 2013 polls on a JD(S) ticket.
“His uncle Sadashiva Reddy has been associated with our family for over 50 years,” Karnataka CM Kumaraswamy said this week. Sharanagouda is an active worker of the JD(S) in Gurmitkal region of Kalaburagi district, where the party does not have much presence. He is considered a natural heir of his father in politics in the region.
Shivanagouda Nayak, BJP MLA from Devadurga: A former member of the G Janardhan Reddy group in BJP, Nayak is a former JD(S) legislator who switched sides to the BJP in 2010 after being lured by the Reddy brothers as part of ‘Operation Lotus’ then. He was disqualified from the Assembly after he became part of a group of dissidents who revolted against the BJP government of B S Yeddyurappa in 2010 but was later reinstated after winning a legal battle.
In an audio recording released last year by the Congress of an alleged BJP attempt to poach Congress MLAs, Janardhan Reddy, the former mining baron, was heard purportedly saying that he made Shivanagouda Nayak a minister for the first time in 2009 after he defected from the JD(S) and joined BJP.
Preetham Gowda, BJP MLA from Hassan: The 37-year-old first-time legislator created a stir when he was elected from Hassan, considered to be a bastion of the JDS and Deve Gowda, in May 2018. Although his voice is not clearly identifiable in the audio recordings — a letter sent to the Assembly Speaker by Chief Minister Kumaraswamy states that he was one of the persons present at the Devadurga Circuit House where the alleged discussions with Yeddyurappa were recorded by Shivanagouda Kandakur.