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‘MLA Poaching’ bid in Karnataka: Congress raises audio clips in Lok Sabha, BJP protests

Indian Express 2019-02-12 00:29:25
New Delhi: Congress member Mallikarjun Kharge speaks in the Lok Sabha during the Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. (LSTV GRAB via PTI)

ACCUSING THE BJP of trying to lure ruling MLAs in Karnataka, the Congress raised the issue of the audio clips — released by Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy last week — in the Lok Sabha on Monday.

According to the audio clips of a purported conversation between BJP state chief B S Yeddyurappa, JD(S) MLA Naganagouda Kandakur’s son Sharanagouda Kandakur, and a man identified by Kumaraswamy as Shivanagouda Nayak, the BJP allegedly tried to poach the JD(S) MLA with the offer of money and a ministerial berth.

Congress floor leader Mallikarjun Kharge accused the BJP of trying to topple the JD(S)-Congress coalition government in the state, while the BJP said it was a fake recording. The Congress staged a walkout, but returned after a few minutes to participate in the discussion on the Budget.

Before Kharge raised the issue, Congress leader Sonia Gandhi was seen reading through the papers that he handed over to her. Reading from the same documents later, Kharge told the House that the audio recording pointed to a bid to lure the JD(S) MLA. He said references were also made about how the Assembly Speaker and a judge “could be managed”.

“You can say all these things but you cannot say ‘audio 1’ or ‘audio 2’, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan told Kharge. BJP leaders Pralhad Joshi and Shobha Karandlaje protested, saying that the audio clips were fake.

Former Prime Minister and JD(S) leader H D Deve Gowda said: “In 2009, ‘Operation Kamala’ started in Karnataka… I request the government that this type of ‘Operation Kamala’ business should not happen… Resigning today, and next morning taking oath as minister…,” he said.

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Union Minister D V Sadananda Gowda of the BJP said: “We have seen since the last eight months that there is infighting between the JD(S) and Congress. It is not only between the JD(S) and Congress, but also within the Congress… In the resort, Congress MLAs fought with each other. They were in hospital for 10 days…If the House is running in Karnataka, why are they fighting here?”