For lotus to be in full bloom, some hectic MLA buy-off

Last Updated 21 October 2010, 18:49 IST

Suresh Gowda (BJP’s Gubbi MLA): How much do you want?

Srinivas (JD(S)’ Tumkur Rural MLA): I want Rs 100 crore, will you give?

Suresh Gowda: (Laughs). Shall I talk to Ashok (Home Minister) and finalise it to
15 (meaning Rs 15 cr)

Srinivas : Only Rs 15 crore!?

Suresh Gowda: Better talk to Ashok. Come, meet him and settle the deal.

Srinivas: If the amount is finalised I will hand over my resignation letter immediately.

Suresh Gowda: You have to talk to Ashok. He will decide. If the deal is settled, you come with two cars, cash will be filled in one and you take it home.

Srinivas: No. No. I will not come anywhere until the amount is settled. Ashwatha (M C Ashwatha, JD(S) MLA who resigned) himself had called me. He told me he was given only
Rs 5 crore as advance though he was promised of Rs 25 crore....

Srinivas: If the amount is settled I am ready to come with you and submit my resignation.

Suresh Gowda: Shall I finalise it for 15 (Rs 15 crore), Ashok is ready for that.

Srinivas: No no. I need at least 25 (Rs 25 crore)

This is a conversation that purportedly took place between S R Srinivas, the JD (S) MLA from Gubbi in Tumkur district, and B Suresh Gowda, BJP MLA from Tumkur Rural, on October 19.

And it is only a peek into the murky, wheeling-dealing world of horse trading in a state which recently witnessed tumultuous moments as some legislators held the B S Yeddyurappa government to ransom.

After the political storm blew over, ruling BJP MLAs followed the well-trodden path of buying off Opposition legislators to help the party maintain its shaky majority in the Legislative Assembly.

In the midst of these “side payments”, an audio-visual CD, titled ‘MLA Sting’, that contains the purported conversation between Suresh Gowda and Srinivas, was released to the media by JD(S) state president H D Kumaraswamy here on Thursday.

In the CD, the BJP MLA and the JD(S) MLA are seen haggling over money for switching loyalty. The conversation begins with Srinivas speaking to BJP MLA Suresh Gowda over phone.

Gowda allegedly offers Rs 15 crore and the post of chairman in a government corporation for Srinivas’s resignation on behalf of  ‘Chakravarthy Samrat’ (referred to as Home Minister R Ashok, according to the JD-S). But Srinivas, who claimed to have set up secret cameras to record the BJP’s clandestine operation, demands at least Rs 25 crore. The conversation took place on the evening of October 19 at Srinivas’s residence in Gubbi, he claimed.

After the initial telephonic conversation, Gowda arrives at Srinivas’s residence. He calls somebody over the phone and asks Srinivas to speak.

The Gubbi MLA talks over the phone after which Gowda is seen leaving the scene. However, the telephone conversation at this stage is not audible.

Srinivas claimed that Ashok agreed to pay Rs 25 crore through Gowda and assured handing over the amount within a few hours.

“I wanted to trap Gowda along with the money. So, I had instructed my supporters to be in the vicinity of my house. But the supporters committed a mistake. They blocked Gowda’s four-wheeler soon after he left my house to get the money. Sensing danger, the BJP MLA decided not to bring the money,” Srinivas claimed.

 ‘CD doctored’

Suresh Gowda and Home Minister Ashok, however, flatly denied that they had ever spoken to Srinivas and described the CD as doctored. They rubbished the CD as another “movie by film producer” H D Kumaraswamy.

The JD(S) leader said that his party will file a complaint with Governor H R Bhardwaj and urge him to recommend imposing President’s rule on Karnataka.

“The Centre should save the State from being ruined. The BJP government is killing democracy,” he thundered.

Preventing poaching

The JD(S) leader said that the CD was released to not only expose the BJP’s true colours, but prevent the party from poaching MLAs belonging to the Opposition parties. Kumaraswamy alleged that he has information that Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa has shortlisted 17 Congress MLAs whom he wants to buy off in the coming days. While the MLAs are being lured by offer of huge money, the chief minister is indulging in tapping of telephones of Opposition party leaders, he alleged.

Charging Energy Minister Shobha Karandlaje for being involved in the legislators’ poaching, Kumaraswamy said that she recently held talks with a Congress MLA.

“She subjected the MLA to a thorough check up and made him to leave all his belongings outside before entering the chamber where she was sitting,” he alleged. Kumaraswamy alleged that the state government used 108 ambulances to transport crores of rupees to be handed over to Varthur Prakash, an Independent MLA who extended support to the Yeddyurappa government during the recent trust vote.

(Published 21 October 2010, 18:49 IST)

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