Dressed in a green shirt, the young man looked like any other party worker at first. But then, HDK called him forward, adjusted his mic, and asked Sharanagouda to tell his story.

How Sharanagouda a young JDS worker allegedly trapped BJP bigwig Yeddyurappa
news Politics Friday, February 08, 2019 - 16:03

“This is a great opportunity for you. I will take care of you like my own son. Don’t break your head over anything. Leave all the responsibility to me. If I give my word once in my life, if I make a promise, I’ve never gone back on it or betrayed anyone,” the voice declared. But it’s not a viral clip of an emotional dialogue by a parental figure in a movie. These were allegedly Karnataka BJP president Yeddyurappa’s words to Sharanagouda Kandakur, an unknown face in Karnataka politics – at least, until 10 am on Friday morning.

But come Friday, the day of the Karnataka state Budget, and the state was witness to the stuff of political thrillers, as Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy ‘launched’ Sharanagouda in the public eye. The young man in his early thirties, dressed in a green shirt and standing around the stage at the Chief Minister’s press conference, looked like he was any other enthusiastic party worker at first. Until Kumaraswamy called him forward, made him sit next to himself, and claimed that this young man had tricked and trapped Yeddyurappa, one of the bigwigs of Karnataka politics, and made him reveal the game plan for Operation Kamala.

All eyes had been on Chief Minister Kumaraswamy on Friday morning, who was set to present the state Budget. However, the CM had other plans, as he, armed with the blessings of his sister, decided to take on the BJP-led government in the Centre and the party in the Karnataka, and specifically, BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa. He had a few tricks up his sleeve – and Sharanagouda was his winning hand.

As Kumaraswamy beckoned him forward and made him sit right next to him, even adjusted his mikes so the young man was fully audible, Sharanagouda was all smiles. “Last night, around 11 pm, I got a call saying Yeddyurappa will talk to me,” he began, and with that one line, he had captured the attention of the room.

The trap that the prey laid out

Sharanagouda is the son of the JD(S) MLA from Gurmitkal, Nagangouda Kandakur, who is 72 years old. A third-generation JD(S) man by his own admission, Sharanagouda has been helping his father manage his constituency for several years now. If the young man is to be believed, the BJP tried to woo him as he is the heir to his ageing father’s legacy, and the party believed that if they could convince him to switch sides, they would move closer to the numbers they need to topple the government.

“‘Everything has been okayed. Some 11 people from the Congress and JD(S) are coming,’ I was told. They then told me they'll give me Rs 20 crore, and that they will give me a ministerial post,” Sharanagouda told his audience at the press conference.

When Sharanagouda allegedly got the call from Yeddyurappa’s people on Thursday night, he immediately devised a plot to trap the opposition party in their own net. He informed HD Kumaraswamy, his brother and his father about the call he received, and set out to Devadurga for his midnight rendezvous. The recorder on his phone, all the while, was switched on.

The promise of fatherly love

When Sharanagouda reached a circuit house in Devadurga, he said he met Yeddyurappa in the middle of the night. With his recorder on, he participated in a conversation where money, ministerial berth, and fatherly love and concern were promised. Several people were present at the circuit house, he said, and he was taken inside by Hassan MLA Pritam Gowda and Devadurga MLA Shivana Gouda Nayak.

In the tape that has been released by JD(S) are four distinct voices – purportedly those of Sharanagouda, Yeddyurappa, and two BJP leaders. One of the two unnamed voices gives a glowing introduction to Sharanagouda, and talks about how he handles all the work in his father’s constituency. And then, the voice supposedly that of Yeddyurappa said, “I will take care of you like my own son.” He adds, “I will give cash for the election, too.”

The details of Operation Kamala

“You come to Bombay. Dr Sudhakar (Congress MLA from Chikkaballapura) also has joined us like this, in Bombay,” the man said to be Yeddyurappa tells Sharanagouda in the tape.

He then reveals the game plan for Operation Kamala. Eleven MLAs from Congress and JD(S), including Dr Sudhakar, are allegedly holed up in a hotel in Bombay. Two more were on their way to join them on Friday, and if Sharanagouda agreed, there would be 14 in total. “We just need one more person, that’s all. We’re not going to promise them any ministerial posts or anything of the sort,” Yeddyurappa allegedly said.

The person alleged to be the opposition leader goes on to add that they were offering ministerial positions to 12 people, each of whom was being offered Rs 10 crore for elections; six to eight others would be offered the chairman position on different boards.

“Your father need not come at all,” he cajoles, “You come there, and once there are 14 people and everything is fixed, you tell your father to give his resignation.”

“It’s our responsibility to make you MLA, your responsibility is to finish your father (career),” he adds.

The names

While Chikkaballapura’s Congress MLA Dr Sudhakar is one name that Sharanagouda allegedly managed to milk out of Yeddyurappa, another big reveal was that the Speaker of the Assembly, Ramesh Kumar, has allegedly been bought over by the BJP – for a sum of Rs 50 crore.

In a second audio tape, the voice supposedly that of Yeddyurappa can be heard saying, “Ramesh Kumar is a good friend. I will tell the Governor that it will be against the Constitution for the coalition to continue as they don’t have majority. Amit Shah and Modi and will ensure that the Governor will side with us. Even if the Speaker creates problem, they will take care of it.”

Repeatedly in the audio, ‘Yeddyurappa’ can be heard telling Sharanagouda that he is a man of his word, and that he will not betray the young man.

But Sharanagouda’s idea of loyalty and betrayal is different. At the press conference on Friday, he declared, “My intention is not to trap anyone. My intention is – I'm a third generation supporter of the Deve Gowda family. It is because of Deve Gowda family and the blessings of the people of Gurmitkal that I am here.”

The other father figure

For Kumaraswamy, that Sharanagouda pulled this off was a moment of pride. As he was leading up to the release of the tape, the Chief Minister talked about how Sharan had called him in the middle of the night to alert him. “Because of sincere party workers, our party is still alive,” the CM said, just as he made allegations against BJP of trying to sabotage his political career.

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