In the 48 hours before Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) BS Yeddyurappa resigned as Karnataka Chief Minister, the Congress party had released six audio recordings of BJP leaders allegedly bribing the opposition members. The first recording had a conversation between Bellary mining baron and BJP leader Janardhan Reddy with Congress MLA Basanagouda Daddal on Friday night. Two more recordings were released on Saturday while MLAs took the oath of office allegedly involving Yeddyurappa and BJP general secretary and Karnataka-in-charge Muralidhar Rao.
According to The Indian Express, the plan to trap and record conversations began on Friday when an alleged middleman of BJP had contacted the Congress state leadership.
“The middleman told us that he had been asked to find MLAs for the BJP and that senior leaders would personally talk to members willing to switch sides. We discussed this with senior party leaders and decided to use the information to trap BJP leaders in the act of negotiating with our MLAs,’’ a senior Congress leader, who played a central role in the release of the audio clips was quoted as saying in the report.
The Congress leader also added that party had picked selected few legislators for the job. “We decided to pick MLAs who are capable of carrying out the pretence of a negotiation with the BJP leaders without them realising they were being trapped,” the Congress leader said.
Among the Congress legislators selected for this secret operation was B.C. Patil, an MLA from Hirekurur. Patil was a former Sub Inspector of Karnataka Police. He has acted in over a dozen Kannada films. Keeping in mind about his previous profession, the party had proposed Patil’s name to the middleman as a candidate who would negotiate and switch sides along with others before the floor test scheduled on Saturday. The Congress further claimed that while the bus was ferrying newly Congress MLAs out of Bengaluru on may 17, Patil allegedly received two calls from BJP leadership in which was a conversation with Yeddyurappa and the other was with BJP leader B Sreeramulu.
Senior Congress leader and former minister D K Shivakumar have admitted that around 40 MLAs received calls for switching. “We asked them during a meeting if they got calls and 70 percent of them raised their hands. Ghulam Nabi Azad took a decision and directed all MLAs to start recording calls. One by one, we caught them all,” Shivakumar told The Indian Express.
However, the opposition BJP had ruled out the allegation. Union minister Prakash Javadekar had called the audio tape as a dirty trick of Congress party. “This audio is the handiwork of the Congress’s dirty tricks department. This is a fake CD.”
“This was more like a sting operation. We wanted to take this sting the whole distance and capture the exchange of cash on camera but our leaders were not in favour of it and we restricted the operation to audio recordings,” a Congress source told Indian Express.