Karnataka MLA poaching row: Day after audio clip release, Congress seeks CBI probe into efforts to destabilise govt

Congress leaders KC Venugopal and Randeep Singh Surjewala on Saturday launched a scathing attack on Narendra Modi and Amit Shah for trying to topple the Congress-JD(S) coalition government in Karnataka using money power. The attack on the BJP top brass comes a day after Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy released two audio clips, allegedly of Bharatiya Janata Party's state unit president BS Yeddyurappa, trying to lure Janata Dal (Secular) MLA Nagan Gouda to quit his party.

The Congress and the JD(S) jointly rule Karnataka, where Yeddyurappa is said to be leading an ''operation lotus'' in an effort to poach MLAs from the two parties and destabilise the government. In the drama that has sustained over alleged poaching attempts by both sides, the BJP had to quarantine its MLAs in Gurugram and the Congress housed its legislators in a Bengaluru resort after four of its MLAs gave the miss to a party meet. Friday's development came hours before the presentation of the state budget at the Assembly, when JD(S) scion Kumaraswamy called a hurried press conference and claimed that Yeddyurappa had called Gouda's son Sharan to try and convince him to ditch his party. Kumaraswamy further claimed that the entire operation was run with tacit support from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah.

However, the Karnataka chief minister played only a section of the said audio clip at the press conference, reported NDTV. In the clip, a male voice is heard offering money and ministerial berth, besides assuring the JD(S) legislator's son that both the Assembly speaker and the judges will be "taken care of" in case the anti-defection law is invoked against them. Yeddyurappa has claimed that the clip is "fake", however, the audio quality was too poor to make out for certain.

Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala at the press conference on Saturday. ANI

Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala at the press conference on Saturday. ANI

Using Kumaraswamy's "revelations" to sharpen attack on the BJP, Congress general secretary and state in-charge Venugopal and party communications in-charge Surjewala lashed out at the BJP leadership that had purportedly orchestrated the poaching.

"BJP’s gang of three is trying to topple the Karnataka government. This gang of Prime Minister Modi, Amit Shah and Yeddyurappa is using the Karnataka governor as a puppet to topple the elected government of the state," Hindustan Times quoted Surjewala as saying.

Surjewala said the Karnataka government has filed a "case" but did not reveal where, against whom and in what capacity it was filed. "The released audio clips also prove that the BJP leaders have access to the Supreme Court judgments and they could try to meddle in cases to turn them in their favour," said Surjewala. It is not known as to which part of the audio clips prove Surjewala's claim.

"In what capacity is the BJP Karnataka president Yeddyurappa discussing approaching Supreme Court judges to get the case right? Have Narendra Modi and Amit Shah given them such assurances? Has the Supreme Court become a jebi dukaan of the BJP?" ANI reported Surjewala as having further said.

"The line goes straight to the doors of Amit Shah," he said, adding, "This is not limited to a state anymore. This is about the country. So, this case should be probed thoroughly. The CBI should probe this case."

Venugopal, too, questioned the source of the money that the BJP was purportedly promising to the MLAs. "The audio clips states that BS Yeddyurappa is offering Rs 10 crore per MLA and in his deliberation, it's clear there are 18 MLAs. Therefore it comes at the rate of around Rs 200 crore. He’s offering 12 MLAs ministerial posts, six were offered chairman posts in different boards. It should be investigated as to who is giving money to the BJP to bribe these MLAs," he said.

The Congress leaders also emphasised that party chief Rahul Gandhi "will do anything to expose BJP's lies."

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Updated Date: Feb 09, 2019 12:20:25 IST

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