Seedy history of CDs in State politics

Most of the charges levelled in the past have still remained allegations

But, hardly any of these evidences help take the allegations to logical end. Most of the time, the issue gets diluted as doubts are raised over the authenticity of the cassettes. Also, politicians do not puruse the cases for their own vested interests.

JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy released a CD, in which BJP MLA Suresh Gowda allegedly tried to woo JD(S) MLA S R Srinivas by assuring him a huge cash. The BJP MLA has questioned the authenticity of the CD and denied allegations of luring the MLA.

The CD came to light only a week after the BJP State president K S Eshwarappa released a CD, carrying a telephonic conversation between BJP MLA Appachchu Ranjan and Kumaraswamy. In the CD, the latter assures the former a ministerial berth in the alternative government if he quits the BJP.

Given the reactions in the political circle, nobody is willing to take the allegations to a logical end. Instead, they prefer to indulge in mud-slinging over the CDs and tarnish images of the opponents to the maximum possible extent. Usually CDs attain entertainment value for a couple of days.

The ‘Moily tape’ case was a little different. In 1984, the then Leader of Opposition M Veerappa Moily allegedly tried to lure  Independent MLA C Byregowda by offering Rs 2 lakh. His reported intention was to topple Ramakrishna Hegde-led Janata Party government. Then the matter was referred to Justice N D Venkatesh Commission. The Commission exonerated Moily on the grounds that authenticity of the tapes could not be established.

In 2001, the then KPCC chief V S Koujalagi came under severe criticism after a video cassette, in which he was allegedly seen accepting huge cash from a contractor, was recorded. The ‘sting operation’ was orchestrated by the then Janata Dal MLC Satish Jarkiholi, a political rival of Koujalagi. The cassette was part of the evidence along with a complaint of corruption submitted to the Lokayukta police of Belgaum. No investigation was held to check the veracity of the cassette. But Koujalagi’s political career took a beating.
In the recent years, with the advancement of technology, audio tapes and cassettes have been replaced by CDs. In 2006, BJP MLC Janardhana Reddy claimed that he possessed CDs, in which he recorded family members of the then chief minister H D Kumaraswamy accepting huge cash as bribe from mine owners. Reddy also released a CD, in which the then Forest minister C Chennigappa was seen making some loose comments as well as getting into a helicopter with some bags. Reddy played the CDs to media. But due to substandard recording quality, the visuals or the audio did not substantiate the allegations he made. The matter is now pending before the court.

BJP minister Hartal Halappa had to resign following charges of raping one of his friends’ wife. As soon as the news broke, Halappa denied it. But the victim’s husband released a CD in which Halappa was seen in a room with the victim. He was arrested and released on bail. The investigation by the CID police is still on. The police had said that the timing and date of recording did not match with the complainant’s allegations.

Similarly, godman Nityananda’s alleged sexual conduct with an actress was also caught on camera necessitating the seer’s arrest. However, he is out on bail now.

Tech-knowledge

The CDs or audio tapes are normally sent to forensic experts at Forensic Research Laboratories to verify their authenticity. The experts check whether speech, utterances, laughter and body movements of those figure in the clippings, match with his utterances and body movements in the video frames.

According to Velu of Lahari Recording company voice imitation is too easy with the help of software like pro tools and cool edit pro. “For example Rajesh Krishnan’s voice can be modulated to project it as S P Balasubramanyam’s. This is possible with softwares. But technical experts at Forensic Labs can notice such manipulations,” he said.

The experts normally study the videos frame by frame. They verify whether the clippings are camera originals and audio and video tracks go together. The experts also study whether the videos are edited, tampered, morphed. According to a senior police officer, forensic experts follow a few scientific techniques to check whether voice in the clippings had been dubbed over.

From 2 lakh to Rs 25 crore!

‘Price’ of MLAs has gone up at alarming rates in the last three decades. In 1984, what Veerappa Moily allegedly offered to Independent MLA C Byregowda was just Rs 2 lakh. Whereas now price of a MLA is in crores. If one were to trust the CD released by the JD(S), an MLA’s ‘rate’ hovers around Rs 25 crore plus a ministerial berth.

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