Causing an embarrassment to the Congress in Karnataka, its MLA Shivaram Hebbar on Monday dismissed as “fake” an audio clip released by the party to allege that the BJP offered money and a ministerial berth to him for cross-voting during the floor test in the Assembly. Three audio tapes were released by the Congress in the run up to the floor test. One of the audio tapes released by the party allegedly had a conversation between Hebbar’s wife and BJP leaders, who allegedly offered money and ministerial post to woo him to vote for the BJP.
Hebbar, however, questioned the authenticity of the audio clip, saying his wife did not receive any such call. In a Facebook post, he wrote,”This is not my wife’s voice and she has not received any such calls. The audio tape is fake. I condemn it.”
Union minister and BJP’s Karnataka election in-charge Prakash Javadekar had rubbished the audio tapes as ‘fake.’ Javadekar also had accused the Congress of releasing ‘fake’ audio clips to prevent the BJP from forming the government. The Congress, however, maintained that all the audio tapes are genuine. “Audio clips are genuine, we challenge it to be sent to forensic lab,” said Congress leader VS Ugrappa.
The Karnataka polls threw up a hung Assembly, with the BJP emerging as the single largest party, but eight short of the majority. Governor Vajubhai Vala invited the BJP to form the government and Yeddyurappa was sworn in as chief minister.
As the floor test approached, the Congress alleged that the BJP was indulging in horsetrading and released the audio tapes to back their charges.
In the audio tape in question, B S Yeddyurappa’s son BY Vijayendra and his close associate B J Puttuswamy are heard speaking purportedly to Hebbar’s wife, offering money and ministerial position to her husband if he cross-voted in favour of the BJP during the floor test.
Vijayendra and Puttuswamy are also heard allegedly offering Rs 15 crore for cross-voting but without a ministerial berth, or Rs 5 crore with a cabinet berth. Puttuswamy is also heard allegedly saying that cases against the wife and the son, who are facing a trial in a mining scam, would be cleared.
Realising that he did not have the numbers, Yeddyurappa had on May 19 announced his decision to quit as chief minister without facing the floor test in an anti-climax to the political drama following the hung verdict in the assembly polls.