Attempts were made to tap my phone: Karnataka ex-min

JD(S) MLA and former Minister S R Srinivas. (DH Fie Photo)

JD(S) MLA and former Minister S R Srinivas on Thursday alleged that his phone was tapped during the tenure of the coalition government headed by H D Kumaraswamy, despite him being the part of the administration.

"Whoever has done things that are illegal should be punished... according to my information, phones were getting tapped...whoever has committed mistake has to be punished mercilessly," he told reporters in Tumakuru.

Asked whether it was done at the behest of Kumaraswamy, he said he was not aware of it.

"I don't know whether Kumaraswamy or officials were behind it. I had information phones were getting tapped. As soon as I got to know, I changed my number. During the coalition government (tenure), despite me being part of the government, my phone was tapped," he alleged.

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa had last month handed over the alleged phone tapping case to CBI, as signs of the scandal gained political steam ever since disqualified JD(S) MLA A H Vishwanath dropped the political bomb, accusing the Kumarswamy government of tapping phones and spying on more than 300 people, including him.

Congress leaders, including Siddaramaiah, M Mallikarjuna Kharge and home minister in the alliance government M B Patil, had sought a probe, while several BJP leaders had directly accused Kumaraswamy of being behind the episode to save his government, which was then rocked by dissidence within.

Srinivas also hit out at Kumaraswamy for not attending the protest rally organised here on Wednesday by several Vokkaliga outfits against the arrest of senior Congress leader D K Shivakumar.

"We had gone there as a leader of the community was in trouble and the community was protesting against it. Probably he (Kumaraswamy) didn't have that feeling and so he didn't come. It is not something for which an invitation has to be extended. It is the community's work. Did we give an invitation to about 25,000 people who came for the protest yesterday?" he asked and said "personal ego" should be set aside on the community issue.

Kumaraswamy on Wednesday had cited not getting an invite as the reason for his absence from the protest rally. Thousands of people, mostly from the Vokkaliga community, had thronged the state capital to express solidarity with Shivakumar, an influential senior Karnataka Congress leader and former Minister.

Kumaraswamy, who also hails from the community, was conspicuous by his absence at the protest, that was largely seen as as a show of strength of the community, dominant in old Mysuru or southern Karnataka region.

Shivakumar, a key minister in the Congress-JDS coalition government headed by Kumaraswamy that collapsed after losing majority in July, was arrested on September 3 by the Enforcement Directorate in a case of alleged money laundering and has been in its custody since then. 

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