The Congress released Thursday two videos dating back to 2010 when BJP leaders B Sriramulu and G Janardhana Reddy were purportedly involved in negotiating a bribe to a relative of a former Chief Justice of India, allegedly to influence a verdict in a mining case.
The videos appeared on a local channel and were later released in the office of the Karnataka Congress by state working president Dinesh Gundu Rao and Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy. Later, state electoral authorities directed channels not to air the videos.
“Will the BJP withdraw these candidates?… The PM needs to respond,’’ said Rao. Ramalinga Reddy called it “an example of the way the BJP ran the government from 2008 to 2013.”
BJP president Amit Shah dismissed the videos as “a possible fake sting operation”.
The videos show groups discussing the purported payment of a Rs 100 crore bribe by Janardhana Reddy and the apparent diversion of part of the money by middlemen.
“The videos that have surfaced today show how Sriramulu and middlemen Captain Reddy, Balan, Swamiji Rajnish and former CJI Balakrishnan’s son-in-law Sreenijan discuss bribe deals to get a favourable judgment from the SC in the Obulapuram [mining company of Janardhana Reddy] case,” Rao said.
The Indian Express tried to contact Sreenijan but he did not respond to calls.
One video, time-stamped at July 1, 2010, shows five people — including a man purported to be linked to Sreenijan. The second video, its time-stamp unclear, records a conversation in Telugu among three people, one of whom is not visible. One person is purportedly Sriramulu; another resembles one of the five in the first video and is referred to as Captain Reddy.
In the first video, a person who looks like a swami says: “Woh kya bolte hain ki Janardhana Reddy 60 se 80 crore pura diya hain, zyada diya, aur yeh… keh rahein hain ki no only 60 crore diya, pura nahi diya – khair chodiye…”
At another point, a man with his back to the camera asks, “You spoke to Janardhana Reddy or Sriramulu?” An unseen man replies: “Both of them.” The man with his back to the camera tells the ‘swami’: “… He [unseen man] had spoken to Janardhana Reddy and Sriramulu and cleared everything. These people should have asked for Rs 500 crore but they asked only for Rs 100 crore. They should have taken the money earlier itself. It was known that Balakrishnan would give the judgment on the 10th… Bhopalan then came to Delhi and gave the amount.”
OMC was accused of illegal mining on the Karnataka-Andhra boundary. The Andhra government ordered mining stopped; the state HC quashed this order; the government filed an SLP in the SC. On May 10, 2010, a bench headed by Balakrishnan allowed OMC to resume mining in an area around 150 m from the boundary. Balakrishnan retired on May 11.
The Congress alleged that the verdict was dubiously obtained and that the videos were shot since a dispute arose over an alleged failure to pay the entire Rs 100 crore bribe.