The explosive allegations made by Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy against the BJP in Karnataka was the topic of heated discussion in the State Legislative Assembly on Monday.
Minister of Rural Development, Law and Parliamentary Affairs and Congress leader Krishna Byre Gowda read out the conversation in the audio tape released by Kumaraswamy on Friday and urged Speaker Ramesh Kumar to discuss its contents. "First, we should understand who has spoken these words - whether it is someone unconnected or whether it is someone in a position of responsibility.. It is not contempt of just the Speaker, it is contempt of the House," Krishna Byre Gowda said.
He appealed to the BJP to prove beyond reasonable doubt the identity of the person speaking in the purported conversation.
BJP legislators erupted in protest over the calls for discussion about the tape. While Yeddyurappa remained silent, BJP MLA JC Madhuswamy responded to the appeal by asking the Speaker that the contents of the tape should not be discussed in the Assembly. "Why should we discuss this in Assembly? It has not happened inside the Assembly. There are courts to prove or disprove this," he said.
Krishna Byre Gowda responded to this question by reminding the House that the Assembly recognises breach of privilege outside the House. But in spite of his appeals, Speaker Ramesh Kumar refused to allow the discussion to continue and stated that one of the reasons for his decision was the fact that his name was involved in the conversation. " I don't know whose voice it is. I should not wrongly accuse Yeddyurappa or anyone. If I have to speak, it has to be proven beyond proof that a person of responsibility has spoken this. I am not interested to discuss this subject - contents of the conversation of the tape - in the House because I am losing my ground and because I am involved in it," he said.
In the tape released last week, the voice purported to be that of Yeddyurappa is heard telling a JD(S) legislator's son, " 15 MLAs are ready to resign and it will be accepted by the Speaker" .
The same voice is also heard saying Speaker Ramesh Kumar is a good friend. Yeddyurappa has since admitted that he held a meeting with Sharanagouda but claimed that the audio is doctored.
In the Assembly, in spite of the Speaker's attempts to move the discussion on to a different topic, the explosive allegations made in the audio tape continued to dominate conversation during the morning session.
Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah also weighed in on the contents of the tape. "Taking action based on this tape is important and discussion on this is also important. This is a black mark on democracy." he said.
Eventually, the Speaker, asked CM Kumaraswamy to probe the tape within 15 days."Form a special investigation team and probe this within 15 days and put the issue to rest," Ramesh Kumar said.
Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy announced that he will order a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe into the incident, which was also opposed by BJP MLAs, who called for the Speaker to order a probe instead.
The other topics for discussion in the Assembly were left untouched on Monday morning with the debate over the audio tape taking centre stage. Speaker Ramesh Kumar tried to bring an end to the discussion and also requested that other topics needed to be taken up in the question hour in the afternoon session.
The contents of the audio tape was also brought up in the Parliament session in New Delhi with Gulbarga MP initiating the discussion on the tape. Gurmitkal Assembly constituency falls under Gulbarga Lok Sabha constituency.