Report details 'payoffs' to BJP leaders

New Delhi


Former Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa made payouts of Rs 1,800 crore to senior leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), judges and lawyers, claimed The Caravan in its report on Friday, further adding that the government did not act, though being aware of the matter since 2017.

The report, which later in the day drew an unusually long response from the Central Board of Direct Taxes, said, according to documents accessed by it, "the income-tax department is in possession of copies of diary entries in the handwriting of the prominent BJP leader and the former chief minister of Karnataka, BS Yeddyurappa that note payoffs amounting to over Rs1,800 crore to the BJP's national leaders, its central committee, and judges and advocates."

The report claimed, "Yeddyurappa recorded these alleged payouts in a Karnataka state assembly legislator's 2009 diary, in Kannada, in his own hand."

Yeddyurappa was chief minister in Karnataka from May 2008 to July 2011. The report is in some ways a reminder to the Jain Hawala diaries that had named senior BJP leader L.K. Advani. After his name figured in the Jain hawala scam, Advani quit as MP, deciding not to contest an election till his name had been cleared.

"The copies of the diary pages note that Yeddyurappa paid the BJP Central Committee Rs 1,000 crore; that he paid the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and the Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari Rs 150 crore each; that he gave the home minister Rajnath Singh Rs 100 crore; and that he paid the BJP stalwart LK Advani and the senior party leader Murli Manohar Joshi Rs 50 crore each," reads the report.

"Besides this, the entry notes, Yeddyurappa paid Rs 10 crore for "Gadkari's son's marriage." The diary entries also state that Yeddyurappa paid Rs 250 crore to "judges" and Rs 50 crore to "Advocates (fee paid for cases)," but does not mention any names."

The entries regarding payments to the BJP leaders, judges and advocates were written against rows dated 17 January 2009, while the entry regarding the BJP central committee was written against rows dated 18 January 2009, said the report, adding it was unclear whether the entries were made on these dates or written in the diary on a later date. The Caravan says that each copy of the pages accessed by it had Yeddyurappa's signature.

The report said that the IT department and the BJP government at the centre have been sitting on copies of Yeddyurappa's diary entries since August 2017. It said a senior IT official took the copies to Jaitley, along with an unsigned cover note.

In a section marked 'From Yeddyurappa to IT Department, via DK Shivakumar', the report said that the "senior IT official attached two documents, to confirm that the signature and the handwriting is Yeddyurappa's."

One of these was a letter that Yeddyurappa had written in January 2017 to Sushil Chandra, who headed the CBDT at the time, urging him to take action against Shivakumar for his alleged irregularities and corruption. The other document was Yeddyurappa's election affidavit filed ahead of the 2013 Karnataka assembly polls.

"The senior IT official asked in the note whether further investigation by the Enforcement Directorate-India's top law-enforcement agency for financial and economic crimes-was viable. But Jaitley, who is named in the entries as having allegedly received Rs 150 crore from Yeddyurappa, chose not to act on the income-tax official's note," reads the report.

"Jaitley was incharge of the Karnataka BJP between 2004 and 2013, and oversaw the party's state unit during the elections held in this period."

The diary entries also include amounts allegedly paid to state legislators in Karnataka, many of whom were instrumental in helping Yeddyurappa secure the Chief Minister's seat in 2008, as per the news report.

Another entry, which is signed by Yeddyurappa, reads, "Gali Janardhana Reddy is the key person to make me CM." 

"The next line reads: 'Details of persons for whom, money is given by Janardhan Reddy.' The entry notes payments amounting to Rs 150 crore allegedly given to eight leaders."

"The entry, in Yeddyurappa's hand, noted that Reddy made the alleged payments to the politicians," The Caravan report says about the very well-connected politician, who controlled the Bellary iron ore mines and is famed for his extravagant lifestyle.

The diary entries also include a list of 26 people, under "Money received/ paid to me," with amounts ranging from Rs 5 crore to Rs 500 crore. 

"The entries note that the donors gave Yeddyurappa Rs 2,690 crore. Among others, the entry names former state cabinet ministers from the BJP, such as Basavraj Bommai, Aravind Limbavali and Murugesh Nirani; the BJP leader K Subramanya Naidu; and BJP MLAs such as J Krishna Palemar, CC Patil, and Laxman Savadi, all three of whom were once caught watching pornographic clips during assembly proceedings," as per the report.

The Prerana Trust, which is managed by Yeddyurappa's family, is listed as having paid Rs 500 crore. 

The Caravan said the diary entries were made during a turf war between senior BJP leaders in the state and Yeddyurappa when he had broken away from the BJP and formed the Karnataka Janata APaksha, according to a noting by the senior IT official. 

"The senior official wrote that the IT department "protected the interests of the BJP leaders. Since this matter is connected to the BJP leaders of Karnataka and also in Delhi, no further investigation has been done to date," it said.-IANS