Bengaluru: An audio-clip containing a purported conversation between a confidant of a former Ballari BJP MP and a Dubai-based businessman has triggered allegations of attempts being made by the saffron party to topple the Congress-JD(S) coalition government in Karnataka.
In the audio, which has gone viral, the confidant is heard saying at least 10 to 11 lawmakers from the Congress and JD(S) were ready to switch sides with specific names being mentioned. “They have been offered Rs 20 crore to Rs 25 crore and ministership. By the second week it has to happen,” the confidant is heard purportedly saying in the audio.
Subsequently, another video surfaced showing Belagavi strongman and Congress MLA Satish Jarkiholi visiting a resort in Belagavi, triggering speculation about a possible move to keep the dissident MLAs there.
When asked, Jarkiholi denied having any plans to shift loyalties though he conceded that there were at least seven to eight dissidents in Congress, not 25 as has been assumed. “There are not 25 dissidents. Hardly there are seven to eight people but I am not among them. From the beginning I have been saying I will stay here only (in Congress),” Jarkiholi said.
The Congress MLA insisted that the party must address the grouse of the seven-eight MLAs though he admitted that even if the dissidents left the party, nothing will happen to the government.
Regarding his name featuring in the audio, Jarkiholi said such audio clips have been doing the rounds.
There were many clips doing the rounds where there are messages “calling people to come here and there and also that ‘we will make you minister and give you money.'”
“There is nothing new in it. It’s quite natural that attempts were made (to pull down the government). Nobody from our side will go there (in BJP). There are some dissidents but they will also not go away from the party,” Jarkiholi said.
When asked about his resort visit, Jarkiholi said, “We are looking for a resort for our future plans. We want to take our MLAs there – not for defection but just for the purpose of taking them around.”
Former Karnataka chief minister and the convener of the Congress-JD(S) coordination committee Siddaramaiah hit out at the BJP for its alleged attempts to dislodge the government.
“These people are trying to come to power through unethical means from day one. Already they failed once. Now they (BJP) are trying again by investing money,” Siddaramaiah claimed.
Flaying the BJP, Siddaramaiah said, “Where will they get the money if they are saying that they will pay Rs 25 crore (to each MLA)? Whose money it is? It is corrupt money. Aren’t they ashamed for trying to topple the government? This government will continue despite their attempts,” Siddaramaiah said.
BJP general secretary N Ravi Kumar termed the audio “bogus” and said the Congress and JD(S) have been depending upon creating such “fictitious audios” for their survival. The BJP spokesperson slammed Siddaramaiah for talking about corruption when he has not yet explained from where he got the expensive Hublot watch when he was the chief minister.
Embroiled in a controversy over the diamond-studded Hublot watch in March 2016, Siddaramaiah had handed it over to the assembly speaker, asking him to make it a state asset.