Political storm in Karnataka over alleged payoffs to Cong leaders

Political storm in Karnataka over alleged payoffs to Cong leaders

A political slugfest has erupted in Karnataka over reported diary entries by a political aide of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah indicating alleged payments to Congress central leaders by state ministers, with the BJP asking for dissolution of the Assembly and fresh polls.

Excerpts from the diary allegedly of Siddaramaiah's Parliamentary Secretary K Govindaraju, made public by the media, showed a few acronyms that find similarities with names of some Congress leaders and the amount in crores of Rupees against them which was purportedly paid or received.

The Income Tax Department had in March 2016 conducted searches at the residence of Govindaraju, a Member of the Legislative Council, and seized several documents.

Govindaraju, on his part, has rubbished the charges of payments to Congress central leaders and said he has nothing to do with the diary, and the handwriting that is being shown by the media is not his.

The state BJP President B S Yeddyurappa had recently claimed that several big names in the Siddaramaiah government had made huge pay offs to the Congress high command.

Yeddyurappa, who has been targeting Siddaramaiah on the diary issue for the past few weeks, demanded that the Chief Minister dissolve the Assembly and go before the people seeking a fresh mandate.

"The Chief Minister should take moral responsibility and resign; he should dissolve the Assembly and go before the people's court. I'm ready to go on this diary to people's court; Siddaramaiah should also be prepared for it. Let's face and accept their decision," he said.

As the alleged diary entries triggered a political storm, Yeddyurappa and Siddaramaiah launched personal attacks, with both calling each other "corrupt" and promising to quit politics if charges against them were proved.

BJP Yuva Morcha today staged a protest in the city demanding the resignation of Siddaramaiah, calling him the mastermind behind the "scam". They also staged protests in front of residences of few Congress Ministers and leaders.

The protesters alleged that people's money was being routed to the party high command in Delhi to save their seats.  The Congress has called it "BJP's conspiracy" to defame the party and the state government by using Central agencies.

Questioning how the BJP had access to the diary if at all existed, Home Minister and state Congress Chief G Parameshwara said the origin of this "diary theory" is from a raid by the IT, which is an agency under the Union government.

He said, "IT department would have recorded the items seized. Only they are aware of the facts. As a responsible organisation, the IT department has so far not made any comments. If they had made any statement some weightage could have been given, or else we will only have to debate."

"Govindaraju has denied that diary belongs to him, so the question of handwriting or the initials mentioned in it does not arise," he added. In an embarrassment to Congress, senior party leader H S Vishwanath has raised questions about Govindaraju's background and held him solely responsible for the controversy.

He also expressed apprehensions about conspiracy by Govindaraju or BJP, and said it needs to be inquired into. On the other hand, former Chief Minister and JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy held both Congress and BJP equally responsible for "looting" the state's wealth and paying it to their high command in Delhi. He also alleged that all these transactions had happened on direct orders of Siddaramaiah.

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