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Everyone Thinks MLAs Are For Sale, Says HDK While Insisting on SIT Probe in Audio Clip Row

The ruling JDS-Congress coalition government has decided to order an SIT probe into the tapes, amid Opposition dharnas in the Assembly against the idea.

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Updated:February 13, 2019, 9:36 PM IST
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Everyone Thinks MLAs Are For Sale, Says HDK While Insisting on SIT Probe in Audio Clip Row
File photo of Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy. (Twitter)
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Bengaluru: Everyone thinks that MLAs are purchasable commodities," Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy said on Wednesday, while defending the need for a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the audio tapes that came out last week wherein a voice, purportedly that of opposition leader and former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa, lures a JDS MLA's son to get his father to defect for money.

The ruling JDS-Congress coalition government has decided to order an SIT probe into the tapes, amid Opposition dharnas in the Assembly against the idea.

Soon after the decision was announced, the BJP MLAs rushed to the well of the House to protest the government decision, also forcing an early adjournment. Yeddyurappa, who led his MLAs in the dharna, told the House, "We thought we would discuss the budget. There are so many important issues to discuss, but your stubbornness is forcing us to do this dharna."

In the leaked 40-minute conversation, allegedly between Yeddyurappa and Sharana Gouda -- son of Gurmitkal JDS MLA Nagangouda – the two discuss at length the way to defect from the JDS: the price for it, how it would not invite disqualification by the Speaker and how other MLAs have similarly been enticed into going with the BJP.

"Everyone thinks MLAs are purchasable commodities. I want to stop this once and for all. For that reason, I want to take this to a final stage by instructing our officers to take necessary action, without giving scope for anybody's influence, not even the chief minister's. I want to give full freedom to officers to close this kind of issue in Karnataka, so that this may never repeat in future by any party or leader," Kumaraswamy told newspersons.

Congress minister Krishna Byregowda said that while the probe will not be time-bound, officers will be asked to expedite the probe as the Speaker's name was mentioned in the audio and an insult to the Speaker is an insult to the House.

In the audio, one of the BJP MLAs is heard saying that the Speaker has been "booked" for Rs 50 crore, so he will help bring down the ruling coalition.

Former chief minister Siddaramaiah, who also insisted on an SIT probe, asked Yeddyurappa to "keep to his words" – a reference to Yeddyurappa saying he will quit politics if the voice is proven to be his; Yeddyurappa also later admitted it was his voice.

The audio that has been doing the rounds in the last few days has put the BJP on the back foot, just two months ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. The JDS-Congress alliance wants to push forth with the advantage it now has against the BJP, hoping to make this attempt to poach MLAs an election issue as well.

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