Karnataka

Audio recording implies ‘₹20 crore offer’ to ‘rebel’ MLAs

Following criticism that Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy released only edited excerpts of the purported conversation of BJP State president B.S. Yeddyurappa with the son of one of its legislators, the Janata Dal (Secular) released the entire recording of 80 minutes on Wednesday, setting off another political storm.

The recording has conversations of Mr. Yeddyurappa with Sharanagouda, son of Gurmitkal MLA Naganagouda Kandkur, and two BJP MLAs, indicating that 11 rebel MLAs from the governing combine were being paid ₹20 crore each to switch sides.

Denial and acceptance

The clip includes excerpts released by the Chief Minister on February 8 as well. Mr. Sharanagouda had met Mr. Yeddyurappa at Yadgir Circuit House on the night of February 7 and recorded the conversation, he claimed. Mr. Yeddyurappa, who first denied meeting him, on February 10 accepted that he had indeed met Mr. Sharanagouda that night and the voice in the clip was his, but was edited. Now, the entire audio tape has been released to counter this, sources in the JD(S) said.

In new revelations, a person, purportedly Mr. Yeddyurappa, is heard speaking about the Assembly Speaker and stating that he would accept resignations of rebel MLAs. It is another person, allegedly BJP MLA Shivanagouda Naik who brought Mr. Sharanagouda to the circuit house in a car, who makes a reference to the Speaker being paid ₹50 crore during their conversation earlier.

The audio recording includes a long conversation, with three men (purportedly Mr. Shivanagouda Naik, former journalist and adviser to Mr. Yeddyurappa M.B. Maramkal, and Hassan MLA Preetham Gowda). Through the long conversation, the three men are heard trying to negotiate what Mr. Sharanagouda wants in “hard cash” to get his father to resign. One of them, purportedly Mr. Preetham Gowda, tries several times to call B.Y. Vijayendra, son of Mr. Yeddyurappa, who was allegedly in Mumbai to discuss “finance issue”, but he was not successful as the phone was switched off.

One of the men, allegedly Mr. Preetham Gowda, is heard saying Mr. Vijayendra had made him in charge of the money, and finally says they had offered ₹20 crore to 11 other MLAs and he would offer more.

Then another man, purportedly Mr. Naik, is heard saying he would bat for Mr. Sharanagouda and ensure he gets a few crore more than what everyone has got. Finally, the man, allegedly Mr. Preetham Gowda, is heard making a “final offer” adding ₹2.5 crore to his previous offer. He is also heard saying he would arrange for the payment to be made in hard cash at the place of his choice the very next evening. They are heard trying to convince Mr. Sharanagouda to come to Mumbai to see for himself where 11 “rebel” MLAs are holed up in a hotel. “Tell me when you board the flight back. I will arrange for the money to be delivered by the time your flight lands,” a man, purportedly Mr. Preetam Gowda, is heard as saying.

‘Finance issues’

In the earlier conversation with Mr. Yeddyurappa, a person, purportedly Mr. Naik, is heard saying he would get Mr. Sharanagouda speak to Mr. Vijayendra on the “finance issue”. He is heard telling Mr. Sharanagouda that Mr. Yeddyurappa was in charge of only the political part and he had to speak to Mr. Vijayendra regarding “finance issue”.

However, later, a man, allegedly Mr. Yeddyurappa, is heard on the tape promising to pay Mr. Sharanagouda ₹10 crore towards his byelection expenses. This is over and above the ₹20 crore and ₹2.5 crore, it is stated by another man later.

Mr. Vijayendra told reporters after the recording was released that he could not comment on an alleged conversation that took place in his absence.

Mr. Preetham Gowda has denied that he was part of the conversation.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 10:18:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/audio-recording-implies-20-crore-offer-to-rebel-mlas/article26256841.ece

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