Audiogate: Govt, oppn spar over probe nature

Last Updated 13 February 2019, 19:49 IST

The ruling coalition on Wednesday was steadfast in its decision to hand over the probe into the ‘Operation Kamala’ audiogate to the Special Investigation Team (SIT), this despite the BJP’s staunch opposition to the same, and Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar’s intervention.

Ramesh Kumar, who had convened a meeting with both the opposition and the ruling party members to find an amicable solution to the ongoing stalemate on the nature of the investigation into “Rs 150 crore” bribe charges against him, failed in his efforts despite two rounds of talks.

According to sources, both Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and CLP leader Siddaramaiah were insistent that the government would not consider any other kind of probe, including a judicial enquiry or a House committee probe, as demanded by the BJP.

Leader of the Opposition B S Yeddyurappa attended the meeting with his MLA colleagues. The deadlock later instigated an uproar in the Assembly, with the BJP trooping into the well of the House, protesting the government’s stubborn stance.

BJP MLA J C Madhuswamy (Chikkanayakanahalli) said that the SIT probe would set a bad precedent as it would give the police “an opportunity to harass members of this House”. Yeddyurappa said that he failed to understand why the government was unwilling to budge.

“You (Speaker) tried your best to advise the government to reconsider its decision. But I can’t understand why the government is being so stubborn. We don’t want the proceedings to be stalled as we want to discuss the budget and other issues like drought. However, the government is not letting us to. This is an authoritarian government. We have no choice but to stage a night-long protest,” he said, leading his MLAs to the well.

Interestingly, it was Siddaramaiah who stood up to defend the government, and not Kumaraswamy. “Thanks to your everyday horsetrading activities, people are viewing us in a bad light. Our stand is clear. The probe should happen through SIT and the wrongdoers should be punished. Why are you so afraid of the SIT?” Siddaramaiah thundered.

The BJP tried to drown his voice with a high-pitched sloganeering like “Down down government” and “Police rajya tandiro sarkara.”

When the Speaker asked if the BJP was willing to let up their protest, the members denied, forcing him to adjourn the House.

When the House reassembled at 4 pm again, the BJP leaders created pandemonium by attacking the government on the Preetham Gowda attack, leading to an adjournment. The House has not transacted business from Monday, after the audio clip controversy surfaced.

Enough is enough: HDK

Defending his government’s decision to handing over the probe on the audiogate controversy to the SIT, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy told reporters on Wednesday that the coalition partners wanted to ensure that they checkmated the BJP by putting an end to ‘Operation Kamala’ once and for all.

“MLAs are being shopped for the last 10 years. There are talks that MLAs are being purchased through ‘Operation’. The government will appoint honest officials to conduct the probe. The government will not influence the probe. There is a need to take this to a logical conclusion. We are trying to put a full stop.

(Published 13 February 2019, 17:15 IST)

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