Multiple times politicians in Karnataka have claimed to have CDs containing compromising content and in some cases even leaked it. But did it really impact political careers?

Janrdhana Reddy BS Yediyurappa and DK ShivakumarTNM
news Politics Friday, January 15, 2021 - 18:59

The political drama unfolding in Karnataka currently is surrounding a CD that Yediyurappa’s detractors in the BJP and in the opposition claim has ‘compromising content’ against the Karnataka Chief Minister and his son BY Vijayendra. Bijapur City MLA Basangouda Patil Yatnal started the controversy by stating on Thursday that a CD was in the possession of BJP MLC CP Yogeshwar. According to Yatnal,  Yogeshwar used this CD to ensure that he becomes a minister.

While no one really knows if this CD exists, the political theater surrounding ‘CDs’ is not new to Karnataka. From 2006 or so, many politicians have claimed to have CDs with video evidence of wrongdoings by rivals. Though these CDs have created a flutter and grabbed eyeballs, they have never really toppled governments.

One of the first instances of a politician claiming to have video evidence against his rival surfaced in 2006, when the then Member of Legislative Council and mining baron Gali Janardhana Reddy claimed to have a video of former Forest Minister Chennigappa accepting a bribe of Rs 150 crore from owners of mining companies. He claimed that Chennigappa was the go-between man who allegedly procured the money for the then Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy. 

Although Janardhana Reddy had kept the issue alive for two months, he ultimately released just a photo of Chennigappa sitting with huge amounts of money. Kumaraswamy went on to serve as the Chief Minister for 20 months and in 2008, Janardhana Reddy was made the Tourism Minister. However, this incident marked the beginning of a long-standing feud between Kumaraswamy and Janardhana Reddy. 

In 2011, a video containing a conversation between Janardhana Reddy (who was the tourism minister then) and a man purported to be the confidante of the then Governor Hansraj Bharadwaj, found its way to a Kannada TV channel. The video showed an alleged agent of the Governor approaching Janardhana Reddy to offer him a deal to wriggle out of the office of profit case filed by Congress MLC KC Kondaiah. The news had led to a bitter battle between Governor HR Bharadwaj and Janardhan Reddy with the former ultimately recommending Reddy’s disqualification. Although it was believed that Reddy leaked the video to expose the Governor, the video did not cause any harm to Governor Bharadwaj.

In 2012, after Janardhana Reddy’s arrest, when the illegal mining scam was being covered closely by the media, one of his relatives Dasarath Reddy, who was arrested by the anti corruption bureau claimed to have a video where a session court judge in Andhra Pradesh had accepted Rs 10 crore bribe to grant bail to Reddy. At the time, three judges were arrested in the case. One of the judges, D Prabhakar Rao died in 2016. The mining scam with all its related controversies led to the fall of the mining baron. While Chief Minister Yediyurappa was made to step down, the BJP government remained in power with Jagadish Shettar as the CM. 

In 2013, ahead of the Assembly elections, an explicit video of BJP MLA from Udupi Raghupati Bhat was released to the media. At the time, Raghupati Bhat lost his ticket to contest the elections. After a five-year break he was once again elected as the MLA from Udupi. Although the video did not have a lasting impact on his image, he did face a temporary setback in his career. 

In 2016, two years after Yediyurappa let go of his rebellion and returned to the BJP, the founding member of Karnataka Janata Paksha, Padmanabha Prasanna claimed that he had a CD containing the video of Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa getting married to Shobha Karandlaje. While no video was released, this episode did not have a lasting impact on Yediyurappa’s popularity. 

CD controversies have popped up many times later too, but one of the biggest news stories was regarding a CD that BJP leader Eshwarappa possessed.  In 2018, Eshwarappa’s personal assistant was kidnapped and BSY’s political secretary NR Santhosh. Congress leader DK Shivakumar then claimed that Eshwarappa’s PA had a CD containing incriminating information against Santosh, which led to the kidnapping. 

In 2019, Kumaraswamy released two audio clips in which voices purported to be BS Yeddyurappa and two other BJP leaders were heard trying to lure Gurmitkal JD(S) MLA Nagangouda Kankur’s son Sharangouda into their fold. A few weeks later, BJP MLA Aravind Limbavalli alleged that the BJP is in possession of a video tape where Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy is seen demanding Rs 25 crore bribe from aspirants for the MLC seat. While Kumaraswamy produced the audio tape, Limbavalli did not release any video to the media. Ultimately, Kumaraswamy’s allegation of poaching came true and the Congress-JD(S) coalition fell in 2019. 

In the same year, an explicit video of MLA Arvind Limbavalli was released to the media. The Mahadevapura MLA, who was slated to be given the post of the Deputy CM, lost his chance and had to wait till January this year to bag a ministry. While the video did have a temporary set back, it did not cause long-lasting harm to Limbavalli’s career. 

The latest in the long tryst that Karnataka has had with mysterious CDs, is the one linked to the Chief Minister himself. But if one were to go by history, this tide will pass soon.

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