Karnataka Speaker Wants 'Bribery' Audio, Aired By HD Kumaraswamy, Probed

The opposition, however, said there was no need for an SIT

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HD Kumaraswamy told the speaker that he will set up the special team.


Bengaluru: 

After HD Kumaraswamy released two audio clips to claim that former chief minister and BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa was trying to lure lawmakers to topple his coalition government, the speaker of the Karnataka Assembly has suggested to the Karnataka Chief Minister that a special investigative team or an SIT be set up to probe the issue.

Amid speculation that he might resign, as he was also referred to in the clip, a visibly anguished speaker made an emotional speech in the House before advising the government to set up an SIT.

"Won't take any hasty decision. Constitute an SIT to establish the truth. Give me relief in 15 days," speaker KR Ramesh Kumar urged HD Kumaraswamy.

Calling it a contempt of the House, Mr Kumar said "whichever MLA took my name in the audio tape must step out of politics or I should be out of politics" as the issue rocked the proceedings of the Budget Session.

Mr Kumaraswamy said he was also "pained" at the charge against the speaker and accepted his suggestion to form an SIT.

However, the opposition said there was no need for an SIT. BJP members said the probe should be limited to the charge against the speaker as otherwise they had no trust in the government which was likely to misuse the SIT.

The speaker cautioned Mr Kumaraswamy that "this (SIT) should not lead to a witch-hunt. The probe should be only to establish the truth."

The issue of alleged horse trading echoed in the Lok Sabha as well, where Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge repeated the charge during the Zero Hour. Congress members, including Sonia Gandhi, staged a walkout, but returned a few minutes later.

Dismissing the allegations, Union minister Sadananda Gowda claimed the infighting between the Congress and the JD(S) in Karnataka is no secret and that both parties are doing "fake activities".

Mr Kumaraswamy had on Friday claimed he had proof of the BJP attempting to poach legislators of the ruling coalition as part of what is being called "Operation Lotus". The two audio clips, he said, exposed BS Yeddyurappa who can be heard trying to lure lawmakers on the tape.

HD Kumaraswamy had told reporters that Mr Yeddyurappa called JDS lawmaker Naganagouda's son Sharan and tried to entice his father. In the clip, a man is heard offering money and ministerial berth, besides assuring the JDS legislator's son about "taking care" of the assembly speaker and the judges in case the Anti-Defection Law is invoked.

Reacting to the allegations, Mr Yeddyurappa dismissed the audio clips as ''fake'' and  "a concocted story". He accused HD Kumaraswamy of indulging in ''third grade'' politics and said he was ready to face any inquiry into an audio clip about his alleged bid to destabilise the coalition government in the state.

Mr Yedyurappa pointed out that the Chief Minister had himself sent the lawmaker's son to him and agreed that he spoke to Sharan Gouda, but censured HD Kumaraswamy for releasing only a part of the audio that he wanted.

"I will retire from politics if it (the allegation) is proved... If I had spoken like this (about the speaker), if it is proved... I will resign as an MLA and quit politics," he said.

The ruling coalition partners in Karnataka -- the Congress and the JDS -- have been accusing the BJP of trying to dethrone their nine-month old government with various offers, including bribe in cash and ministerial berths. The BJP has rejected all such claims.

"Being the chief minister of Karnataka, speaking like this without evidence doesn't look nice. More than 11 MLAs aren't going to attend the budget session," BS Yeddyurappa told NDTV.

The BJP has filed a complaint against the Karnataka chief minister.

Mr Kumaraswamy stressed that he might be a film producer, but this (audio clip) is not fake.



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