Kumaraswamy announces SIT probe into Yeddy tape row

Kumaraswamy announces SIT probe into Yeddy tape row
Kumaraswamy made the announcement in the state assembly.

Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy Monday announced a comprehensive SIT probe to "bring out the truth" after an audio clip he released showed state BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa in a purported conversation to lure a JD (S) MLA.

Kumaraswamy made the announcement in the state assembly after Speaker Ramesh Kumar suggested a special investigation team probe the episode to "establish the truth" as his name has also been dragged into the row.

"Constitute an SIT to establish the truth. Give me relief in 15 days," a visibly anguished Kumar said, urging Kumaraswamy, after all members said the speaker was known for his integrity and dignity of his office should be protected.

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

"I seek your permission to form the SIT for a comprehensive probe to bring out the truth," he told the speaker.

K.R. Ramesh Kumar
Karnataka Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar during the Budget Session of the state assembly, in Bengaluru. IANS

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

Terming the reference to him in the audio tape as contempt of the House, Kumar said he was pained by his name being mentioned in the episode.

"Whichever MLA took my name in the audio tape must step out of politics or I should be out of politics. Such a statement is a contempt of the House," Kumar told the legislators as the issue rocked the proceedings of the Budget session.

The political war over charges of horse-trading had escalated in Karnataka Friday with Kumaraswamy releasing an audio clip in which Yeddyurappa is purportedly trying to lure a JD(S) MLA for destabilising the coalition government.

Kumaraswamy had said that during the purported conversation Yeddyurappa had also spoken about a "Rs 50 crore offer to book" the assembly speaker to give a ruling in favour of MLAs who might resign to help the BJP.

Yeddyurappa had said he would 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 had said.

The purported audio tape in Kannada was said to have been recorded on February 7, between Yeddyurappa and Sharanagouda at a guest house at Devadurga in Raichur district, about 480 km from here.

Yeddyurappa, however, on Sunday claimed that the audio tape was fabricated and its contents doctored though it was in his voice and accused Kumaraswamy of blackmailing him.

"I met Sharanagouda at Devadurga on February 7 and discussed many things. But the content in the audio tape is fabricated and its voice doctored," Yeddyurappa told reporters at Hubballi.

Recalling what transpired between him and Sharanagouda, Yeddyurappa said he would retire from politics if Kumaraswamy would prove that he told Sharangouda money (Rs 50 crore) would be given to Kumar for not invoking the anti-defection law if Kandakur joined the BJP.

Congress stages walkout from LS

The Congress on Monday created a ruckus in the Lok Sabha and staged a walkout over alleged attempts to poach their MLAs in Karnataka, a charge that was rejected by the Centre, calling it an "internal fight" between the ruling Congress and the JD-S.

Soon after the House reassembled at noon after the first adjournment over the issue, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge read out a transcript of the taped conversation.

Kharge alleged that the BJP was trying to topple the state government by horse-trading.

"One MLA of my parliamentary constituency was given assurance by a top BJP leader. They are indulging in horse-trading."

Senior JD-S leader and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda said the BJP had earlier launched "Operation Kamala" in 2009 also to poach Congress legislators. He demanded that the government bring a law to stop such operations.

"Such incidents shouldn't happen. That year, as many as 10 ministers resigned and the government fell," he said.

Rejecting the charges, Union Minister D V Sadananda Gowda dubbed the allegations as "baseless".

"In Karnataka, there is a big internal fight between the Congress and the JD-S. There is grouping in Congress itself. One of their MLA's was beaten by their own party colleague and was hospitalised for 10 days. Everything uttered by Kharge and Gowda is false," he said.

Soon after the Minister's response, Congress members trooped near the speaker's podium and started sloganeering. Telugu Desam Party (TDP) members were already protesting in support of their demand for a Special Category Status for Andhra Pradesh.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan urged the members to return to their seats and called Congress' Veerappa Moily to speak on the budget.

To this, Kharge said Moily will participate in the budget discussion but the issue raised by them was not properly addressed. In protest, the Congress members walked out of the House.

Earlier, the Question Hour witnessed a washout over the same issue.

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