Congress MLA Shivaram Hebbar says bribe tape fake; Kumaraswamy plays down reports of dissent

Congress MLA Shivaram Hebbar said an audio clip released by his party to allege that the BJP reached out to him for cross-voting during floor test in the Karnataka assembly was fake. He said his wife did not receive any call from BJP.

Karnataka Elections 2018 Updated: May 21, 2018 20:45 IST
Agencies,Bengaluru/New Delhi
Shivaram Hebbar,bribe tape,BJP
JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy, who will take an oath of office on May 23, refuted reports of resentment with the Congress.(Reuters)

Karnataka chief minister-designate and Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy played down reports of resentment and dissent within alliance partner Congress even as a Congress MLA questioned his own party’s claims that the BJP tried to make him switch sides ahead of a trust vote on Saturday.

Kumaraswamy, who will take the oath of office on May 23, is meeting with the Congress’s top leaders, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, in Delhi on Monday. Before flying to Delhi, Kumaraswamy termed the reports of unhappiness within the Congress “bogus and fake news”, according to news agency ANI.

Meanwhile, Congress MLA Shivaram Hebbar that audio clip released by his party to allege that the BJP reached out to him for cross-voting during the floor test in the Karnataka assembly was “fake”. Hebbar questioned the authenticity of the audio clip in a Facebook post in Kannada, saying his wife did not receive any call from the Bharatiya Janata Party.

“This is not my wife’s voice and she has not received any such calls. The audio tape is fake. I condemn it,” he wrote.

The May 12 Karnataka assembly elections threw up a hung assembly and the BJP emerged as the single largest party with 104 seats but eight short of a majority. Governor Vajubhai Vala invited BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa to form the government and gave him 15 days to prove his majority. After the Supreme Court curtailed that period to two days, Yeddyurappa resigned without facing the floor test on May 19 as he did not have the numbers.

The Congress had released three audio tapes in the run-up to the floor test, claiming BJP leaders were trying to “poach” the party’s MLAs by offering “blandishments” so that the BS Yeddyurappa government is saved.

“Facebook post of Congress MLA Shivram Hebbar from Yellapur, in which he denies his wife ever getting a call from BJP, calls it a fake audio clip... Shame on Congress for brazenly lying, spreading mis-information and media channels for lapping it up. It is all over regional paper,” BJP’s national information and technology cell head Amit Malviya tweeted.

But another Congress MLA BC Patil, said stuck to his claims that he had received calls from the BJP asking him to switch sides.

Kumaraswamy on Sunday dismissed reports his party was is working out a power-sharing formula with the Congress to head the government in Karnataka for 30 months each. He also denied reports that the chief ministership would be rotated between the Congress and JD(S) or that any discussion had taken place on portfolio allocation.

Senior Congress leaders, including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ashok Gehlot and KC Venugopal, briefed party president Rahul Gandhi about the latest political developments in Karnataka, ahead of the crucial deliberations on the power-sharing arrangement with Kumaraswamy.

Congress leader Ramalinga Reddy said his party was “100% happy” being in an alliance with the JD(S).

“There is a give and take policy. Even in Bengaluru’s Municipal Corporation, the alliance is functioning smoothly for three years,” Reddy was quoted as saying by ANI on reports of Congress rift with JD(S).

“Of course, some people in both parties will have to sacrifice, as all cannot become ministers,” he added.

Karnataka Congress leaders Siddaramaiah, DK Shivakumar and G Parameshwara are also in Delhi to discuss government formation with the party high command.

Shivakumar said earlier in the day that the Congress party and the JD(S) had to sort out their differences for the sake of forming a secular government in Karnataka. He admitted that the Congress and the JD(S) were at loggerheads before the Karnataka assembly polls.

“Rahul Gandhi has taken a decision that there should be a secular government here. That is what the entire country needs and that is why we have taken this stand (alliance with JD(S)). I had to swallow all this bitterness since this is my duty,” Shivakumar said.

First Published: May 21, 2018 16:56 IST