In an embarrassment for former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda’s party, the Janata Dal (Secular), two of the party MLAs were allegedly caught in a sting operation by a private television channel, negotiating for rates upward of Rs. 5 crore in exchange for their votes in the elections to Rajya Sabha seats from the State.
In all, four Karnataka legislators were shown discussing money being paid in the elections, to be held on June 11, in the sting broadcast by India Today Television.
While the Congress has two assured seats and the BJP one, it is for the fourth seat, for which the JD(S) and the Congress have fielded candidates, that most of the negotiations were shown as taking place.
The two JD(S) legislators, Mallikarjun Khuba (Basavakalyana) and G.T. Deve Gowda (Chamundeshwari), were shown negotiating for rates upwards of Rs. 5 crore for their vote.
Two other legislators ‘caught on tape’ were B.R. Patil (Aland) from KJP and Varthur Prakash (Kolar), an Independent.
While Mr. Khuba was shown negotiating for a rate “upwards of Rs. five crore”, an aide accompanying G.T. Deve Gowda was seen asking if the rates are as high as Rs. 10 crore.
B.R. Patil , was shown as admitting that the prices are being quoted for voting in the Rajya Sabha polls and the sting showed Mr. Khuba telling reporters that a group of legislators will have a “fixed amount.”
Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Deve Gowda claimed “it is a conspiracy and it will be known if the media house is questioned.”
He added that he would take the matter to court.
Meanwhile, another television channel, Times Now, broadcast footage allegedly showing Rajya Sabha candidate of the JD(S) discussing details of the election and the Congress candidate K.C. Ramamurthy implying that independent MLAs are supporting the Congress as their constituencies will benefit with development funds.
The JD(S) with 40 MLAs needs five more MLAs to win one RS seat, but has been facing severe infighting and some of its MLAs have openly said they would back the Congress candidate.
The Congress has an excess of 33 votes, after election of two RS candidates, and hopes to bag the third seat with the help of rebel Janata Dal(Secular) MLAs, independents and smaller parties like the Karnataka Janata Party.