Karnataka Speaker orders probe into audio tape



 The Karnataka Assembly Speaker on Monday ordered an inquiry into an audio clip released by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy last week to expose the BJP's alleged attempts to lure a JD-S MLA, that mentioned his name.

In the clip, former Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader B.S. Yeddyurappa allegedly mentioned Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar's name while in conversation with Naganagouda Kandakur's son, Sharanagouda, on February 7.

Playing the clip to the media here on February 8, Kumaraswamy and Sharanagouda alleged that Yeddyurappa agreed to pay an unspecified amount if Kandakur left the Janata Dal-Secular and joined the BJP.

"I have asked the Chief Minister to form a Special Committee to inquire into the contents of the audio tape in which my name was mentioned," Kumar told the members, after Congress Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Krishna Byre Gowda raised it in the Lower House of the Assembly.

Kumar also said the Committee must submit its report in the next 15 days.

Sharanagouda also claimed Yeddyurappa told him that the Speaker could be booked by paying Rs 50 crore for not invoking the anti-defection law against Kandakur in the event of his defecting to the BJP from the JD-S.

Terming the reference to him in the audio tape as disrespectful to the post of Speaker, Kumar said he was pained by his name being mentioned in the episode.

"Whichever MLA took my name in the audio tape must step out of politics or I should be out of politics," Kumar told the legislators as the issue rocked the proceedings of the Budget Session.

The mention of the Speaker's name in the audio clip was in contempt of the House, alleged Congress leader Byre Gowda, who sought a probe into the issue.

Meanwhile, BJP legislator J.C. Madhuswamy said his party cannot trust the state government to hold a fair probe.

"There should be an independent committee or judicial probe into the issue instead of an inquiry by state government agencies, which are under the control of Kumaraswamy," he said.

The purported audio tape in Kannada was said to have been recorded on February 7 at a guest house at Devadurga in Raichur district, about 480 km from here.

Yeddyurappa, however, on Sunday claimed that the audio tape was fabricated and its contents doctored though it was in his voice and accused Kumaraswamy of blackmailing him.

"I met Sharanagouda at Devadurga on February 7 and discussed many things. But the content in the audio tape is fabricated and its voice doctored," Yeddyurappa told the media at Hubballi.

Recalling what transpired between him and Sharanagouda, Yeddyurappa said he would retire from politics if Kumaraswamy would prove that he told Sharanagouda money (Rs 50 crore) would be given to Kumar for not invoking the anti-defection law if Kandakur joined the BJP.-IANS