Mining barons Reddy brothers are generally believed to have bankrolled Bharatiya Janata Party to come to power in Karnataka. Now their loyalist has been caught on video claiming the Reddys had given around Rs 250 crore to BJP's first chief minister BS Yeddyurappa for the purpose.
The video footage aired by a Kannada TV channel Tuesday shows Reddy loyalist and former BJP minister B Sriramulu making the claim. A few hours later Sriramulu denied he had made such a claim.
The footage shows Sriramlu telling a Hindu religious leader that the mining barons had given Yeddyurappa over Rs 250 crores, first Rs 200 crores and then Rs. 10 crores for six to seven months, in the run up to and after the formation of the first BJP government in the state.
The channel indicated that it had not shot the footage. It said it got the footage from its sources.
The footage shows Sriramulu, who last year quit BJP and plans to float his own party, telling Sri Thontadarya Swami of Thontada Math (religious institution) in the north Karnataka town of Gadag, the role he and Reddy brothers played in BJP coming to power in the state for the first time in May 2008. Gadag is about 400 km away from Bangalore.
It shows Sriramulu saying that the Reddys had given Rs 200 crore to Yeddyurappa soon after the Janata Dal-Secular and BJP coalition government fell in 2007 as the state headed for assembly polls, which were held in April-May 2008.
"When the coalition fell we gave Yeddyrappa Rs 200 crores," Sriramulu is heard telling the Swami in Kannada.
"After forming the government, Yeddyurappa wanted Rs 6 or 7 crores every month to strengthen the party and stabilize the government. For six or seven months, we gave Rs 10 crore each month," Sriramulu says.
Sriramulu had been reported making similar statements last week. Then too he had denied it.
Now also he is denying claiming "how can one discuss money matters with a religious leader".
Yeddyurappa was not available for comment as he was in Delhi on way to Vaishnodevi temple in Jammu and Kashmir.
While BJP leaders avoided comment, Congress and JDS leaders demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the incident.
Of the three Reddy brothers, the most vocal of them Gali Janardhana is at present in CBI custody in Bangalore in connection with illegal mining case in Karnataka. He also faces illegal mining case in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and has been in Hydebrad's Chanchalaguda jail since Sep 5.
Janardhana and one of his brothers Gali Karunakara were ministers in the Yeddyurappa cabinet. Yeddyurappa was forced to quit July 31 last year over corruption charges and with that the two brothers lost the ministership. The third Reddy is Gali Somashekara, member of the state assembly.
Central corporate affairs minister M Veerappa Moily and JDS state president and former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy were among the leaders of the two parties who told reporters here that Sriramulu's claims should be probed.
This has exposed the money power used by BJP to come to power in the state, they said.