Karnataka state politics seems to surround leaked audio clips in recent times. Especially after Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy released a tape of BJP leaders allegedly trying to lure a JD(S) party worker. On Wednesday, another audio clip went viral. This time, it was purportedly a phone conversation between Hassan BJP MLA Preetham Gowda, BJP MLA Shivana Gouda Nayak and an anonymous leader from the coalition government.
In the audio tape, a voice purported to be that of Preetham Gowda is heard telling a man named Santosh that JD(S) supremo Deve Gowda “would die soon” and Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy “is unwell” and that JD(S) “will soon be history.” As news of the new audio clip went viral, over 100 JD(S) party workers in Hassan gathered outside MLA Preetham Gowda’s residence and began pelting stones at his house.
They condemned Preetham Gowda for speaking about a former Prime Minister in a derogatory manner. Soon, BJP party workers too landed up at the spot and a fight broke out between the workers of both parties. In the process, Rahul Kini, the BJP State Executive Committee member of the Yuva Morcha, was injured after a stone hit his right eye.
This led to further agitation and the police resorted to lathicharge to calm the crowd. The JD(S) party workers accused Preetham Gowda of indulging in horsetrading of JD(S) MLAs and also accused him of passing “distasteful comments” about the party’s higher-ups.
As news of the violence spread, BJP leaders in the Assembly too began protesting in the well of the House, leading the Speaker to adjourn the proceedings.
Here’s a full transcription of the latest audio clip:
Preetham Gowda: Santosh, I have spoken to Saab. The man is only 30 years old and still has lot of time in politics. Our Saab has offered him a minister post if he wants. He wanted to talk about the financial matters but I told him not to do that and that we will take care of it. So what now?
Preetham Gowda: Talk to him, talk to him.
Preetham Gowda: Saab has told him that there are very few non-Lingayat leaders in that region and there are one of two of them. Saab also told him that he will be handling Yadgir district. He has also said that he wants a good portfolio. He said his father will resign and he will contest bye-elections and will be made a minister. He also promised to pay whatever money needed for the election campaign. Now your job is to get 11 more people, just like you got the other four. What’s the figure?
Santosh: Hmm. It’s not about the figure. If it happens, it will. I don’t want to sit in the background.
Preetham Gowda: You come to Bombay and look after everything. We will put you in touch with Vijayendra, you contact him. Once the 14 MLAs are in Bombay, you come with me in my car, he will also make his father resign, we will all go and talk to Vijayendra. No one is going to take away anything from us.
Shivana Gouda Nayak: Now what is the price? How much are you demanding? Yeddyurappa has money.
Santosh: Only power.
Shivana Gouda Nayak: Giving ministerial berth is his (Yeddyurappa) job. My job is to give money. I will discuss the financials and then tell me. If you confirm it by tomorrow evening, I will give you Rs 20 crore within three months. But you tell me how much you want.
Santosh: I don’t…
Preetham Gowda: Listen to me. You are the person who will walk out of here a better man. You will grow to a certain status in your life. You should not feel like you did not get enough. So tell us how much you want. We give you our word because everyone’s lives are at stake here.
Shivana Gouda: If Yeddyurappa becomes the CM and if you trust him, it is the best. If you don’t trust him, it will be your misfortune but if you do trust him, you will benefit from it. This is the practical thing. So tell me how many crore you want. I will talk to them about it. I will bat on your behalf. (Inaudible).
Preetham Gowda: See, Vijayendra has told me a figure to offer you but if you tell us how much, then we can convey it to him and that will make him happy. You are like family to us. All 11 people will get the equal amount. But if you want something more, we will be able to tell you how much we can give.
Shivana Gouda: I resigned and did not take a single penny from BJP. That Janardhana Reddy did not give me a single rupee. I gave Rs 3.1 crore for elections and he did not give any money. I wanted to hold a press meet about Janardhana Reddy but Saab told me not to at the time. (inaudible noises)
Preetham Gowda: I will be with BJP until I die. He (referring Deve Gowda) will die soon and his son is unwell. They will be wiped out soon.
Following the protests and violence in Hassan, BJP leader and Karnataka Leader of Opposition BS Yeddyurappa warned the Kumaraswamy government that he would travel to Hassan and take on Deve Gowda’s family if the violence continued.
Speaking to the media, Yeddyurappa said, "The Gowda family is attacking our MLA and party workers. I will go there and sit down in protest. Let the JD(S) workers attack me. I will speak to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh about this incident."
Preetham Gowda on the other hand, alleged that Deve Gowda, Kumaraswamy and HD Revanna were trying to kill him and his family members. “They want to kill me but I will not be afraid. I will also fight back,” he said.
After the furore over the new audio tape and the violence it triggered, Chief Minister Kumaraswamy appealed to JDS workers and asked them not to create violence over a BJP MLA's alleged comments about him and his father. He has also instructed Hassan DC and SP to maintain law and order.
Hassan police say that the situation was tense and they have deployed more security to ensure no untoward incident occurs.
“Attack on Hassan BJP MLA Preetham Gowda’s house and his family members by JD(S) goondas exposes how HD Kumaraswamy and his party men are running riots in the state. Kumaraswamy is heading and sponsoring goonda elements in Karnataka and pushing the states towards anarchy,” the Karnataka BJP tweeted.