An alleged phone conversation between B Sriramulu's associate and a Dubai-based businessman suggests that the BJP is in talks with disgruntled Congress MLAs.

Congress targets BJP over leaked audio clip accuses it of renewing Operation Kamala
news Controversy Monday, December 03, 2018 - 16:30

Amid news of a rift between the Congress and the JD(S) in Karnataka, an audio clip leaked to the media has suggested that BJP has renewed efforts to convince Congress MLAs to switch parties.

Ever since his resignation earlier in May, Yeddyurappa and the BJP's strategist and Molakalmuru MLA B Sriramulu, have been on a quest to poach Congress and JD(S) leaders. While the alleged poaching was put off in the wake of the bye-polls earlier this month, an unverified audio clip released to the media suggests that Operation Kamala has picked up the pace once again.

The unverified audio clip reportedly records a conversation between B Sriramulu’s associate in Bengaluru and a Dubai-based businessman, believed to be Sriramulu's friend. Sources in the Congress claim that Sriramulu's associate made the call in order to procure money for horse trading of MLAs.

TNM has accessed the audio clip which was allegedly found by the state intelligence. The clip is believed to have been recorded on November 28 and was immediately sent to Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy.

Here is a transcription of the call:

Sriramulu associate: Hello, hello sir. Yeddyurappa and Sriramulu have started Operation Kamala once again.

Businessman: Okay.

Sriramulu associate: They are planning to hold talks with 10 MLAs.

Businessman: Is it the old list of 10 MLAs or new ones?

Sriramulu associate: Old ones. Anand Singh, Nagendra, Ganesh, BC Patil, Satish Jarkiholi, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Pratap Gouda Patil. Totally there are about 10 to 12 of them. At any cost they want at least 10 MLAs to resign in the first or second week of December. Talks are going to be held now. No one has confirmed yet.

Businessman: Is everything ready?

Sriramulu associate: No one is talking directly over the phone. They are meeting them in person.

Businessman: Manju (party functionary) and who else is going to meet them?

Sriramulu Associate: Manju, Naveen and Saravana (party funtionaries).

Businessman: They are authorised to talk to them directly?

Sriramulu associate: They (party functionaries) will meet the MLAs and make them talk over the phone. The MLAs do not speak from their mobile phones. They talk to Janaradhana Reddy.

Businessman: How much money is required?

Sriramulu associate: Right now they (Janaradhana Reddy and Sriramulu) are saying they will give Rs 20-25 crore to each MLA and also promise a ministerial berth.

Businessman: Haan... When will they resign?

Sriramulu associate: So far there is no confirmation. They are holding talks in secret. Sriramulu and Yeddyurappa are meeting them in person and talking as well.

Businessman: Is Sriramulu in Bangalore? (Bengaluru)

Sriramulu associate: Yes. He is attending the wedding of a BJP functionary in Tumakuru and he will be back in the afternoon. Tomorrow is 29th (November) and there is a BJP workers' meeting which he (Sriramulu) will attend.

Businessman: Is Ramesh Jarkiholi meeting Sriramulu in Bengaluru?

Sriramulu associate: Yes the meeting is scheduled with Sriramulu and Janardhana Reddy. Don't know what will happen. They are to meet at the house in Vasanth Nagar.

Businessman: Okay you keep me posted and also send me a programme schedule.

Meanwhile, Congress insiders say that Rahul Gandhi has instructed the party seniors in Karnataka to keep a close watch on its MLAs.

"Kumaraswamy has held talks with Rahul Gandhi. There is a lot of pressure to expand the cabinet as soon as possible and this could be a tactic to warn the party's senior leaders. The date for the cabinet expansion will be decided on December 5 during the legislative party meeting," a Congress leader said.

Soon after the audio clip was released, Yemkanmardi Congress MLA Satish Jarkiholi visited Sateri Resort, raising speculation of resort politics.

"Our legislators will tour Belagavi and so I had come to book resort rooms. I am not in touch with any disgruntled leaders. Yes, there is some disagreement between leaders, which is common in any political party. The demand is to expand the cabinet as soon as possible. We have also made our demands clear to the high command," Satish Jarkiholi added.

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