The Mics Were Hot: Congress Gossip Session In Karnataka Is, Well, Awkward

The Congress has responded with VS Ugrappa, seen in the video, clarifying that his colleague was simply making him aware of the BJP's allegations against DK Shivakumar

A conversation between ex Congress MP VS Ugrappa and media coordinator Salim was overheard

Highlights

  • In video, Congressmen are discussing alleged corruption by DK Shivakumar
  • The video was tweeted Wednesday by the BJP's Amit Malviya
  • Former MP VS Ugrappa and media coordinator MA Salim were caught on camera
Bengaluru:

A video of two Karnataka Congress leaders discussing alleged corruption by DK Shivakumar, chief of the state unit, and his associates was tweeted Wednesday by the BJP's Amit Malviya, landing the party in yet more controversy as it tries to prep for a spate of key Assembly elections next year.

Former MP VS Ugrappa and media coordinator MA Salim were caught on camera speaking to each before a press conference; the conversation referenced "adjustments (from six-eight per cent to 12 per cent)" by Mr Shivakumar and to an aide of his who "made around 50-100 crores".

In their exchange the two also referred to Mr Shivakumar as a "drunkard".

"Former Congress MP VS Ugrappa and KPCC media coordinator Salim discuss how party President DK Shivakumar takes bribes... and a close aide of his has made between 50-100 crores... They are also discussing how he stutters while talking and as if he his drunk. Interesting," Amit Malviya wrote.

NDTV has not been able to independently verify the video.

Mr Shivakumar did not deny the conversation took place, but has denied any link to the allegations.

"You have shown they spoke ill against me... I will not deny it. (But) Ugrappa has give a statement... (and) I was never part of any 'percentage' (share in contracts)," he was quoted by news agency PTI.

The 'percentage' is reportedly linked to scams in the state's Irrigation Department at a time when Mr Shivakumar was the Irrigation Minister; this was when the Congress-JDS was in power in Karnataka.

The Congress has responded by expelling MA Salim for six years and sending Mr Ugrappa a show-cause notice. Mr Ugrappa has clarified that Mr Salim was making him aware of the BJP's allegations.

"I came to address a press conference yesterday... our media coordinator, Salim, whispered (to me) that some people were saying DK Shivakumar's people were taking money... this is the allegation that the BJP is making, and he was just telling me this," he said.

"After the press conference I spoke with Salim... even now you (the media) can speak to him... he made it very clear it was not his allegation... it is the allegation made by BJP and others. He told me, 'if you take questions from the media, better you should have information... that is why I told you'."

The two-minute-long video begins with MA Salim (in the green shirt) whispering to Mr Ugrappa.

"It was six-eight per cent (but) after DK (Shivakumar) came he made it 12 per cent. These are all some adjustments by DK... he is a scamster... his aide made around 50-100 crore. Imagine how much DK would have made... he is just a collection person," Mr Salim can be heard saying.

To this Mr Ugrappa seems to respond: "You don't know... we all were adamant to make him President (of the party's state unit). That's why I am not saying anything. These are the reasons."

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DK Shivakumar was made chief of the Congress' Karnataka unit in March last year (File)

The two then seem to discuss Mr Shivakumar's speech.

"Whenever DK talks, he stammers a lot, just like drunkards. He drinks?" Mr Salim asks of Mr Ugrappa, to which the latter responds: "That's what they were telling".

"Media personnel were asking whether he (Mr Shivakumar) was drunk... the way he talks is like that," Salim adds, "When he talks, he speaks very emotionally..."

The BJP has driven home its point with former spokesperson S Prakash demanding Mr Shivakumar's resignation and calling for a formal inquiry into the corruption allegations.

"DK Shivakumar's corruption... has been completely exposed... both leaders (Mr Ugrappa and Mr Salim) are strong supporters of (former Chief Minister) Siddaramaiah. This is viewed as a conspiracy by Siddaramaiah supporters... the feud between the two has been taken to new highs... DK Shivakumar must resign and there must be an inquiry," Mr Prakash said in a video of his own.

DK Shivakumar was made Karnataka Congress chief in March last year; the high-profile trouble-shooter replaced Dinesh Gundu Rao, who resigned after the party's dismal performance in by-polls that saw 11 ex Congress and JDS rebel MLAs (now with the BJP) re-elected to seats they resigned.

With input from PTI