Speaker Ramesh Kumar's statement has raised several questions regarding the coalition's stability.

Yeddyurappa did not say that Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar on Rs 50 crore bribe allegation
news Saturday, February 09, 2019 - 08:12

After Chief Minister Kumaraswamy's explosive press conference on Friday, where he released an audio recording purportedly of BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa saying he had "booked the Speaker for Rs 50 crore," the Speaker of the Karnataka Assembly has refuted the allegations. Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar said that he could not easily discern the identity of each voice on the recording and that Yeddyurappa did not say he had bribed him.

"I received the audio and before speaking to you (the media), I listened to it carefully. One cannot understand who said what to whom in that tape. Yeddyurappa did not say that he had bribed the Speaker. Some leaders who were trying to convince him (Sharangouda) said that Speaker is a Congress person and someone else who was present said that he had spoken to the Speaker. One cannot clearly determine who spoke those words," the Speaker said.

Read: Kumaraswamy's explosive allegation: BJP offered bribe of Rs 50 crore to Speaker

He further stated that he would bring up the issue in the Assembly on Monday and launch an official inquiry into the issue. "It is not permissible for anyone to take the Speaker's name so lightly and not respect the position. Obviously someone spoke about it, but Yeddyurappa did not. When I don't know who said it, what reaction can I give?" Ramesh Kumar added.  

When asked if he did not think the voice sounded like Yeddyurappa's, Ramesh Kumar lashed out against a journalist and said, "You are not doing journalism, you are doing policing. Speak with responsibility. Yeddyurappa was a former Chief Minister. I was a Speaker of the Assembly 24 years ago. He is the Leader of Opposition. You can't be talking like that."

Soon after the Speaker's statement, the BJP took to Twitter claiming that Ramesh Kumar was in turn exposing Kumaraswamy's accusations as false. "With every promise of his failing and his Unholy Alliance Government surviving on a day-to-day basis, CM HD Kumaraswamy has lost the trust of Kannadigas. To hide his failures the "Crying Star" comes up with a new audio CD created by Mimicry Artists to malign," BJP MLA from Chikkamagaluru CT Ravi tweeted.

Friday was a day filled with drama in Karnataka politics with the Chief Minister hurriedly organising a press conference to "expose" the BJP's Operation Lotus. Several questions were raised regarding the veracity of the tapes, however. Congress insiders say that Ramesh Kumar's statement comes as a shock to many within the party.

"Deputy Chief Minister Parameshwara was with CM Kumaraswamy to show solidarity. Ramesh Kumar's open show of support was not expected. Yes, he is disgruntled with MLAs. He does not want the pre-poll alliance to happen with JD(S) for the Lok Sabha elections because this would mean that he would have to rally behind the JD(S) candidate in a region where the Congress' primary rival is JD(S). Several party leaders believe he may have spoken with BJP too. But these are just reactions to what he said. We will have to look into the matter," a Congress source said.

Kumaraswamy's allegations came amidst the BJP's attempts to poach Congress and JD(S) leaders in order to topple the coalition government. Kumaraswamy paraded Gurmitkal MLA Nagangouda Kankur's son Sharangouda and alleged that the BJP had called him for a secret rendezvous at Devadurga, where BJP state President BS Yeddyurappa allegedly offered him Rs 20 crore, a ticket to contest elections and also the post of district-in-charge minister to his father.

Read: How Sharanagouda, a young JD(S) worker, allegedly trapped BJP bigwig Yeddyurappa

These allegations were made in the midst of massive speculation that the coalition partners were constantly bickering and that the government would topple due to the game of one-upmanship being played between Congress and JD(S) leaders. The Congress has also decided to disqualify four Congress MLAs - Ramesh Jarkiholi, Umesh Jadhav, Mahesh Kumattalli and B Nagendra. Siddaramaiah confirmed this to the media on Friday and said, “The CLP (Congress Legislative Party) has taken the decision to move for legal action against the four under the antidefection law."

The four MLAs have been cooped up at the Renaissance Hotel in Mumbai since January, waiting for the BJP to gather more defectors to topple the government. 

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