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Last Updated Tuesday May 23 2017 06:34 AM IST

When diary entries lead to political slugfests

Sachidananda Murthy
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When diary entries lead to political slugfests Karnataka Olympic Association (KOA) president K. Govindraj. File photo: Manorama

Karnataka Olympics Association’s (KOA) president K. Govindraj is a political gymnast who has built bridges with opposing camps in Congress politics. Once a loyalist of S.M. Krishna, he later jumped to the camp of Siddaramaiah, who made him political secretary to the chief minister.

He has controlled the KOA during the reigns of both Congress and BJP chief ministers in the state. But there were opponents who said the spurt in Govindraj's wealth in the last three years was more due to cuts from government deals and the income tax department took special interest. Thus, in March last year, his homes and offices were raided, and among the documents was a diary, which has now become a hot potato in Karnataka politics.

Although Govindraj has denied the authenticity of the diary, state BJP president B.S. Yedyurappa says it provides details of the corrupt money given to top leaders of the Congress. Apparently, the diary gives details of money given to ministers handling cash cow ministries for being passed onto the high command members. He says the acronyms are there for ministers and Congress functionaries, which proves Karnataka is being looted to feed corrupt Congress leaders. Even though the Congress maintains that it’s a fake document, the party has asked how could the BJP get hold of that if IT sleuths had seized it from Govindraj’s house. They point fingers at the BJP government at the center for the attempt to destroy an opposition ruled state government.

But seizure of diaries by income tax and other investigative agencies has caused big political storms many a time. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi sparked a controversy with the documents seized from Birla and Sahara groups, which had allegedly shown bribes amounting to Rs 155 crores made to "CM, Gujarat(Modiji)", "CM, Chattisgarh," "CM, Madhya Pradesh", and "CM, Delhi" six years ago.

At that time, Narendra Modi, Raman Singh, Shivraj Singh Chauhan (all BJP) and Sheela Dixit (Congress) were the CMs. But Modi and his ministers have laughed off these allegations, saying it is the Congress, which is real fountainhead of corruption.

In 1996, the Jain Hawala diaries seized from hawala kingpin S.K. Jain, had led to the Supreme Court asking CBI to prosecute BJP stalwart L.K. Advani, seven Congress ministers, including Vidya Charan Shukla and R.K. Dhawan, Delhi chief minister Madan Lal Khurana, two governors and other leaders.

The case, which led to a political trauma, was however dismissed by the Delhi high court, which cited that diary entries, unless corroborated by proof of payment, cannot be evidence. As CBI could not prove the payment, the leaders were acquitted.

Interestingly, both the hawala and Sahara-Birla diaries became public through NGOs, which approached the Supreme Court. In Sahara Birla diary issue, the Supreme Court had refused to order any inquiry.

American computer security expert Bruce Schneier has said there are two ways to embed secrets in a diary. The first way prevents one's sister from knowing one's secrets. The second way is to prevent the government from knowing the secrets. If the Karnataka controversy snowballs, Govindraj will have to prove to the income tax department that the explosive diary produced by Yedyurappa is a dud.

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