New Delhi: The Congress on Friday sought an investigation by the Lokpal into a Caravan report that alleged bribes of Rs 1800 crore were paid by former Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa to the BJP's top brass.
The report says that the Yeddyurappa had recorded the alleged payouts in a Karnataka state assembly legislator’s 2009 diary, in Kannada, in his own hand. The copies of the diary pages note that Yeddyurappa paid Rs 1,000 crore to the BJP central committee; Rs 150 crore each to finance minister Arun Jaitley and transport minister Nitin Gadkari, Rs 100 crore to home minister Rajnath Singh, and Rs 50 crore each to senior BJP leaders LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi.
Besides this, the report alleges that the note says Yeddyurappa paid Rs 10 crore for Gadkari’s son’s marriage. It also alleges the former Karnataka CM paid Rs 250 crore to “judges” and Rs 50 crore to “Advocates (fee paid for cases),” but does not mention any names.
Soon after the report was published, the Congress held a press conference to demand that the Lokpal investigate the allegations.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should come forward and clarify whether bribes to the tune of Rs 1,800 crore were taken by the BJP leaders or not.
Surjewala, quoting the Caravan magazine report, said the diary containing details of the alleged pay-offs was seized by the Income Tax Department during raids. He added that the former Karnataka CM’s signature was found on every page.
"Prima facie, this is a case of investigating all BJP leaders, right from the PM and downwards. It is a fit case to be investigated by the newly appointed Lokpal," he said.
Yeddyurappa rejected the allegations and claimed the report was “planted by the Congress to gain mileage in the upcoming elections”.
“I-T Department officials have already proved that the documents are forged and fake. Issues raised by Congress leaders are irrelevant and false. I'm discussing with the senior advocates to file a defamation case against the concerned person also,” he said.
The Caravan report says that the income-tax department and the BJP government at the centre have been sitting on copies of these entries since August 2017.
The Congress spokesperson also read out a purported conversation between Yeddyurappa and a BJP leader alluding to the bribery. "The diary with BS Yeddyurappa's signature on it was with the Income Tax Department since 2017. If that is the case why did Modi and the BJP not get it investigated," Surjewala asked.
"Has the Modi government refused permission to order a probe into the pay-offs? Is the diary not proof of corruption by the BJP leadership," he asked.