Whispers on DKS go viral, Congress does damage control

Whispers on D K Shivakumar go viral, Congress does damage control

The issue caused much embarrassment to the Congress, a party that is already fighting the bad optics of groupism

D K Shivakumar conceded that the issue had damaged the party. Credit: DH file photo

The Congress on Wednesday expelled its media coordinator M A Saleem and slapped a notice on former MP V S Ugrappa after a video showing them discussing corruption allegations against their president D K Shivakumar went viral.

The issue caused much embarrassment to the Congress, a party that is already fighting the bad optics of groupism.

The conversation between Ugrappa and Saleem that was caught on news cameras and mics took place minutes before a news conference on Tuesday. The video went viral Wednesday.

Saleem is heard whispering to Ugrappa about a scam, going on to speculate on Shivakumar’s assets. “It used to be 6-8% and it went up to 12% (commission). Even DK has adjustments...There’s Uppar, G Shankar, Hanumanthappa...it’s a big scandal. When dug deeper, even [Shivakumar’s] will come out,” Saleem is heard saying. “[Vijay] Mulugund has Rs 50-100 crore. If he has that much, imagine how much DK will have. He’s just a collection agent.”

Ugrappa then tells Saleem that much effort went into making Shivakumar the KPCC president. “But the weighing scale is not rising because of these reasons,” he says.

The duo go on to comment on Shivakumar’s “slurred speech” with Saleem wondering if he suffers from “low blood pressure, because he sounds like he’s drunk.”

The party’s disciplinary committee headed by former Rajya Sabha deputy chairman K Rahman Khan expelled Saleem for six years while giving Ugrappa three days to explain himself.

The conversation is seen as a fallout of the one-upmanship between Shivakumar and Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah. The BJP, which took potshots at the Congress on this issue, claimed this was Siddaramaiah’s attempt to have Shivakumar removed.

Shivakumar conceded that the issue had damaged the party. “The conversation has nothing to do with me or the Congress,” he said. “In politics, there are people who will clap for you and also pelt stones at you. There's no conspiracy against me. And I'm not bothered anyway,” he said, rejecting claims that there were factions in the party.

The BJP wrote a series of tweets taking potshots at the Congress.

“Your very own Congress leaders have called you a THIEF during a press conference. Are you a THIEF? Did you take 12 % BRIBE? Did you share this LOOT with your party owners? Will you please clarify?” the BJP wrote.

Ugrappa defended Shivakumar. “I’ve known Shivakumar for 3-4 decades. He’s an extremely proactive, pro-people leader. All his assets are from his business interests and not from politics. He has never indulged in percentage (commission) politics,” he said.

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