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Siddaramaiah Sheds Kid Gloves as 4 MLAs Play Truant on Budget Day, Audio Clip Adds to Karnataka Poaching Drama

The Karnataka Congress says it will invoke the anti-defection law against four rebel MLAs who skipped HD Kumaraswamy’s budget speech despite a whip.


Updated:February 8, 2019, 4:31 PM IST
Siddaramaiah Sheds Kid Gloves as 4 MLAs Play Truant on Budget Day, Audio Clip Adds to Karnataka Poaching Drama
Ruckus in Karnataka Assembly during the budget session.

Bengaluru: In a dramatic move hours before presenting the state budget, Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy Friday released an audio clip of an alleged conversation of state BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa to lure a JDS MLA to destabilise the coalition government in the state.

Yeddyurappa described the clip as "fake" and a "concocted story".

In sudden twists and turns, the Congress also decided to crack the whip and initiate action against four rebel MLAs under the Anti-Defection law after the legislature party meeting here just before the session commenced its sitting.

Briefing reporters, CLP leader Siddaramaiah said he would meet the assembly speaker Ramesh Kumar and urge him to take action against Ramesh Jarkiholi, Umesh Jadhav, Mahesh Kumathali and B Nagendra.

He said barring the four and JN Ganesh, all other lawmakers attended the CLP meet. Two MLAs Roshan Baig and B C Patil, who also did not participate, had taken prior permission, he said.

Ganesh is declared absconding after an alleged brawl with a colleague lawmaker at a resort recently.

Siddaramaiah said the four MLAs had sent letters to him, saying they could not attend the entire budget session of the assembly.

Adding a new element to the political turmoil, Kumaraswamy dropped the audio bomb at a press conference, to back his claim about BJP's alleged toppling game.

He alleged such an attempt was being carried out with the "permission" of prime minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.

"Without the knowledge of the prime minister, is it possible to do all this," Kumaraswamy said, as he lashed out at Modi and asked him to come clean on the issue. Modi and Amit Shah are doing all this".

The chief minister said he would send the audio clips to the prime minister who, he said, claims about being "the only saviour of this country.

"Come out with your real face," Kumaraswamy said pointing out at Modi.

Kumaraswamy alleged there were two audio clips which had recorded the telephonic conversation between Yeddyurappa and Sharan Gouda, son of JDS lawmaker Naganagouda, whom the BJP leader was trying to woo with money and other offers.

Sharan Gouda, who was present with the chief minister, spoke about how Yeddyurappa allegedly tried to reach out to him over phone and asked him to meet him at Devadurga in his attempt to lure his father.

Only part of one unclear audio clip was played at the press conference.

In the clip, a male voice is heard offering money and ministerial berth, besides assuring Sharan Gouda about "taking care" of the speaker and the judges in case of the Anti-Defection Law being invoked.

Hitting back, Yeddyurappa dismissed the audio clips as "fake" and "a concocted story" and said he had not met anyone to woo Nagana Gouda as alleged.

Yeddyurappa said he went to Devadurga to visit a temple and flew back to the city. Kumaraswamy had "concocted" the story to hide his failures and inability to keep the JD(S) and Congress flock together, Yeddyurappa told reporters here.

"It is a fake audio. I have not met anyone. Kumaraswamy is trying to hide his failures. This is a drama," Yeddyurappa said.

He said the Kumaraswamy government had lost the trust of the people and had "no moral right" to continue in office.

The Chief Minister said during the purported conversation Yeddyurappa had also spoken about a "Rs 50 crore offer to book" the Assembly speaker.

He said Modi was mouthing platitudes about the political system but on the other hand, his party colleagues were "demolishing" it.

"Your friends (BJP in Karnataka) have exposed the real picture of your face. If you have any morality...I demand that the prime minister should take appropriate action," Kumaraswamy said.

Yeddyurappa dismissed a claim by the chief minister that hehad spoken in the audio about a "Rs 50 crore" offer to the assembly speaker.

"I will retire from politics if it (the allegation) is proved. If I had spoken like this (about the speaker), if it is proved, I will resign as an MLA and quit politics.

Karnataka has been reeling under political turmoil for the past few weeks that also saw the resort politics play out with both BJP and Congress sequestering their MLAs to shield them poaching bid.

Both Congress and JDS have been accusing the BJP of making "desparate" attempts to dethrone the Kumaraswamy government with allurements and even intimidation, and challenged the saffron party to move a no confidence motion.

The BJP, on other hand, has dismissed the charge, saying the party was being blamed for the inability of the two coalition partners to keep their flock together.

(With PTI inputs)

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