With the 2018 Assembly Elections months away, the ruling Congress and the Opposition BJP in Karnataka are accusing each other of tapping phones of top leaders.
Hitting out at the BJP-led Union government, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said, “It is not the state government, but the Centre that is tapping phones.”
The CM added, “Tapping phones of opposition party leaders is something our government has never done and will never do. But the Centre has been tapping our phones, which the state BJP is not aware of. We haven’t played it up, because it’s a small thing.”
Echoing the CM’s version, Karnataka Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy said the Centre was snooping on the state government.
“It’s true that the phones of 30-35 Congress leaders are being tapped. It’s been happening for many days,” Reddy said.
But Congress’ accusations came after BJP leader R Ashok alleged that the ruling Congress was using the state machinery to tap phone calls of leaders from the BJP and JD (S).
Refuting the counter allegation by the Congress, he challenged the state government to conduct an enquiry.
“The ruling Congress had tapped 162 mobile numbers belonging to BJP and JD(S) leaders. I was a home minister. I have reliable information. Phones belonging to terrorists or rowdies can be tapped, but there’s no provision to tap phones of politicians. Let there be a departmental inquiry or a CBI probe into this,” Ashoka said.
The controversy over phone-tapping first surfaced in August when Union Minister Ananth Kumar and other BJP leaders met the Governor over the allegations. The delegation alleged that retired IPS officer Kempaiah, and DGP of the Anti-Corruption Bureau MN Reddi are monitoring the phones of opposition leaders at the behest of the ruling party.