Accusing the BJP of trying to lure its MLAs, the Congress on Friday released an audio clip of a purported conversation, in Kannada, between its newly elected MLA from Raichur Rural constituency, Basanagouda Daddal, and former BJP minister and Bellary baron G Janardhan Reddy, in which the latter allegedly offered a ministry and “wealth” for defecting to the BJP.
In the audio clip, a person who sounds like Reddy offers Daddal direct access to “the national president” and promises “100 times the wealth you currently have”. “Today, you will be a minister… What I am saying is that I will make you sit one-to-one with the big man and speak to them myself… You will make 100 times the wealth you currently have,” he says.
The Congress released the audio clip in the evening. Earlier in the day, former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told reporters that the party was in possession of recordings of conversations in which BJP leaders like the Reddys and B Sreeramulu sought to entice Congress MLAs.
“We will release details of all the discussions between Reddy, Sreeramulu and our MLAs after the trust vote. All the things they are doing to lure our MLAs are evident on the tape. All our 77 MLAs, other than Anand Singh who is being held captive, are intact,’’ he said, adding that MLA Prathapgouda Patil had also been enticed to defect.
The BJP dismissed the audio clip as “utter falsehood’’. Union minister and party’s in-charge of Karnataka, Prakash Javadekar, said it was “a creation of the Congress dirty tricks department’’.
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“Who is the mimicry artist you hired to perform Janardhan Reddy’s voice? He has done a pretty good job. Kindly share his coordinates. We would want to know if he can do a voiceover of Siddu & DKS as well. Maybe even we can release an audio tape,” tweeted the Karnataka BJP.
Janardhan Reddy, who is currently being prosecuted by the CBI on charges of running an illegal mining mafia in Bellary when he was a BJP minister between 2008-2013, was publicly disowned by BJP president Amit Shah as “not linked to the BJP’’ during the election campaign.
A Bellary group linked to Reddy, his brothers Somashekhar and Karunakara, and close friend and former minister Sreeramulu, was given the task of winning seats in 15-20 constituencies in the Hyderabad Karnataka region, which includes Bellary and Raichur, for the BJP. The group, however, was not able to facilitate the victory of more than a handful of MLAs.
Since the results, Janardhan Reddy and Sreeramulu have been linked by the Congress and JD(S) to alleged efforts by the BJP to poach their MLAs in order to prove majority.
“The BJP has approached Bellary Congress MLAs Anand Singh and B Nagendra through Sreeramulu and they have been asked to bring in other MLAs from the region,’’ said a Congress source, as the jockeying for numbers began after the results.
Congress MLC V S Ugrappa, who released the audio clip on Friday, claimed the party had more clips of conversations between some BJP national leaders and Congress MLAs. According to a senior party functionary, the Congress has audio recordings of two senior state BJP leaders and two national leaders trying to “poach” Congress and JD(S) MLAs.