Under pressure from the BJP, Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar will convene a meeting on Wednesday with Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and Leader of the Opposition B S Yeddyurappa, whose outcome will determine how the controversial audio clip should be probed.
The clip, which allegedly features Yeddyurappa and BJP legislator Shivanagouda Naik trying to lure the son of a JD(S) legislator, contains a claim that Kumar had been bribed to accept resignations of disgruntled MLAs and pave the way for Kumaraswamy’s government to be toppled.
Like Monday, all of Tuesday’s Assembly proceedings witnessed the government and the Opposition locking horns. The ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition and the Speaker maintained that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) should probe the audio clip.
The BJP kept up pressure demanding either a House committee probe or a judicial inquiry.
Breaking his silence on the issue, Yeddyurappa accused Kumaraswamy of orchestrating the entire episode.
“He has already said that he was the one who sent Sharanagouda (MLA’s son) to me. A conversation of 30-40 minutes was reduced to just 2-3 minutes, tailor-made into a political conspiracy. The way I see it, Kumaraswamy is guilty of faking and falsifying evidence, releasing such evidence claiming it to be true and cheating. He is the prime accused. Can a police officer question the chief minister,” he asked, charging that “the SIT will be under the CM.”
Yeddyurappa admitted having met Sharanagouda. “But I wasn’t part of the conversation about the Rs-50 crore bribe to the Speaker. I will retire from politics if proved otherwise,” he said. On poaching MLAs, Yeddyurappa hit out at the CM. “Will the CM deny having offered a ministerial position to Subash Guttedar (BJP MLA)? His Cabinet ministers have claimed that 3-4 BJP MLAs were in touch with them.”
Kumaraswamy conceded that he released the audio clip expressly to “secure” his chair. “As the CM, I had to bring this before the public.”
On BJP’s charge of having stage-managed the entire episode, he said: “Why did Sharanagouda get a call at 11.30 pm in the first place? When he called me and sought my advice, I merely said go and come?”
Kumaraswamy assured that he would not assert any pressure on investigators. “Why do we doubt our officers so much? In fact, I’ve continued with the same intelligence chief Yeddyurappa had appointed. I’ve only tried to take them into confidence,” he said.
“You’re so rattled with only a part of the audio clip that has come out. Imagine what’ll happen if the entire 40-minute clip is made public,” Kumaraswamy said. “We’re in a system where loopholes in the anti-defection law are being misused. We need to put an end to this. Let my role also be probed. I assure you that no officer will be pressurised. A House committee cannot put an end to whatever has been happening (poaching of MLAs) for the past 12-13 years,” the CM said.
Kumar took exception when Yeddyurappa said the Speaker had “defied practice” by not convening a meeting of ruling and Opposition side. “I don’t want anyone to think I didn’t take them into confidence. Let’s meet at 10.30 am at my tea chamber,” Kumar said, before adjourning the House.