An audio clip, allegedly of the BJP's Karnataka chief talking of a leadership change in the state, has gone viral alongside speculation of Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa being replaced by the end of this month.
Nalinkumar Kateel called it a fake clip and insisted the voice was not his. Urging Mr Yediyurappa to order an investigation, the Karnataka BJP chief added that there was no question of any change in leadership.
The 47-second audio clip has a man telling someone: "Don't tell anyone. Without Eshwarappa, Jagdish Shettar there will be a new team. Don't worry, it is on our hands. There are three names, it come from Delhi."
The voice, speaking in the local Tulu language, also says the decision on a new Chief Minister will be taken by the Delhi leadership.
When asked about the voice in the recording sounding similar to his, Mr Kateel said, "I have already said I am not connected with it at all. Let the investigation happen, let the truth come out."
He went on to say there was "no discussion at all" on any leadership change. "The question doesn't arise. Yediyurappa is the soul of our party. He is senior to all of us and has fought for the party for so many years. Eshwarappa and Jagdish Shettar are like the eyes. They are all senior leaders. There has been no discussion in the party," Mr Kateel said.
On Saturday, Mr Yediyurappa refuted speculation raised by his air dash to Delhi on a special plane to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders. He has been facing open criticism and attacks from a section of BJP MLAs for months, and the rebellion has showed no signs of fading.
State Tourism Minister CP Yogeeshwara had said recently that instead of the Chief Minister, his son has been ruling and controlling the ministries of Karnataka.
Reports said in his meeting with PM Modi on Friday, the 78-year-old offered to quit, citing his poor health, and the party was exploring possible replacements by July 26, when the BJP government in Karnataka completes two years.
However, Mr Yediyurappa told reporters: ""There is no truth in it. Not at all. Not at all. Not at all."
As the audio clip emerged, the Congress said the state government was unstable and it was affecting the administration. "BJP is unstable in the state. Their MLAs and ministers are openly speaking of ousting the CM. I do not think this has been a situation in any state, it is been going on for the past 7-8 months," said Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge.