Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy today claimed he had proof of the BJP attempting to lure legislators of the ruling coalition as part of what is being called “Operation Lotus”. He released two audio clips and claimed that former chief minister and BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa had been caught on tape trying to lure lawmakers to topple his coalition government.
Reacting to the allegations, Mr Yeddyurappa dismissed the audio clips as ”fake” and “a concocted story”.
Mr Kumaraswamy told NDTV, “I may be a film producer but this is not fake.”
At a hurriedly called press conference hours before he presented the state budget, HD Kumaraswamy claimed that the clips were purportedly of Mr Yeddyurappa trying to lure Naganagouda, a lawmaker from his Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S). He alleged that Mr Yeddyurappa called Naganagouda’s son Sharan late last night, attempting to entice his father. “Without the knowledge of the prime minister, is it possible to do this,” he asked, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi should come clean on the issue.
The chief minister said he would send the audio clips to PM Modi who, he said, claims about being “the only saviour of this country. “Come out with your real face,” HD Kumaraswamy said pointing out at PM Modi.
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 the JD(S) legislator’s son about “taking care” of the assembly speaker and the judges in case of the Anti-Defection Law being invoked.
“It is a fake audio… I have not met anyone. Kumaraswamy is trying to hide his failures. This is a drama,” Mr Yeddyurappa said. He said he went to Devadurga in Raichur distirct, where the legislator’s son claimed to have met him and recorded the conversation, to visit a temple and flew back to the city.
BS Yedyurappa dismissed the claim by the chief minister that he had 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,” he said.
“Being the chief minister of Karnataka, speaking like this without evidence doesn’t look nice. More than 11 MLAs aren’t going to attend the budget session,” BS Yeddyurappa told NDTV.
The ruling coalition partners in Karnataka – the Congress and the JD(S) – have been accusing the BJP of trying to dethrone their nine-month old government with various offers, including bribe in cash and ministerial berths, a charge the BJP has rejected.
Yesterday, Mr Kumaraswamy gave away prime positions in the government to potential rebels in an effort to pacify them before the budget.
Among the beneficiaries of this move are lawmakers Pratap Gowda Patil, Basaveshwaranagar Daddal and MA Gopalaswamy. While Mr Daddal was appointed as chairman of the Scheduled Tribes Welfare Board, Mr Gopalaswamy is the new parliamentary secretary to Water Resource Minister DK Shivakumar. Disgrunted legislator Umesh Jadhav — found to be absenting himself from Congress Legislative Party meetings despite repeated warnings — has been replaced by Mr Patil as the chairman of the Warehouse Corporation.
The chief minister presented the budget after legislative party meetings of the Congress, the BJP and the JD(S).
The Congress had issued a whip requiring all its legislators to abide by the directives of the chief whip, failing which they would be disqualified and further banned from contesting the polls for the next six years.