The Congress says the woman in the audio clip was a journalist and not the MLA's wife.

Congress embarrassed after its MLA calls audio sting released by party fake
news Karnataka 2018 Monday, May 21, 2018 - 15:47

Hours before the trust vote in Karnataka on Saturday, Congress party released around 5 audio tapes in which high-profile BJP leaders including former CM BS Yeddyurappa and Muralidhar Rao were allegedly heard negotiating terms with Congress MLA-elects. The tapes gave Congress much mileage and put the BJP on the back-foot.

But the Congress on Monday was forced to go into into damage control mode after the party's MLA Shivaram Hebbar from Yellapur put up a Facebook post stating that the purported conversations between his wife and BJP leaders were fake.

“It's not the voice of my wife and my wife has never spoken to anyone on the phone. It is disdainful for anyone to duplicate tapes for political reasons. This audio tape is fake ... I condemn this,” Hebbar wrote on his Facebook.

The conversation, allegedly between Shivaram Hebbar's wife and BJP leader Puttuswamy was one among the five audio clips released by the Congress ahead of the floor test. The Congress had alleged that BJP was playing dirty tricks, offering MLAs money and cabinet berth in exchange for cross-voting.

Following Hebbar’s post, the BJP had  accused the the Congress of "brazenly lying and spreading misinformation". The BJP claimed that all the stings were the handiwork of the ‘dirty tricks” department of the Congress. BJP also alleged that Congress had hired mimicry artists to stage the audio clips.

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.

— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) May 20, 2018

It was not the wife, but was a journalist

On Monday, Congress MLC Ugrappa claimed that the audio clip did not have Hebbar's wife voice, but it had contained a conversation between a woman journalist and Puttuswamy. According to Ugrappa, a media channel had done a sting on BJP, and a reporter had posed as Hebbar's wife.  

“It's not about who did the sting operation, it's about corrupt practices and influences used to pass the floor test,” Ugrappa said. 

“Yeddyurappa admitted this on floor of the house that Javdekar, Muralidhar Rao, Sadananda Gowda and Ananth Kumar tried their best to win the trust vote. So they all had roles to play in this. Hebbar is right, this was a sting operation, it was not his wife," Ugrappa added.

Ugrappa denied the BJP's allegation that the audio clip was a doctored one. “There is no chance the audio is fake, it is a conversation that did take place. It is not a conversation between Hebbar's wife and Puttaswamy but a female journalist who posed as the MLA’s wife.  How did the sting proceed in Bangaru Laxman case?” he asked. 

However, despite many journalists insisting, Ugrappa was not willing to reveal the name of the journalist or the media house citing “security concerns”.  

“The issue of where it came from will be disclosed at an appropriate time. If I reveal now, there will be a threat on the people involved,” he said.

Ugrappa also said that the rest of the four tapes were “genuine”. “The rest of the tapes involved our MLAs themselves. There are no doubts about it,” he said.  

The Congress leader demanded that a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court should inquire into BJP's 'Operation Kamala 2.0'.

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