Bengaluru: In a major setback to the BJP, a clip has gone viral in which Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa was heard admitting that rebel Congress and JD(S) MLAs, who were later disqualified, were kept in Mumbai during the final days of the coalition government under the watch of BJP national President Amit Shah.
In the seven-minute clip, Yediyurappa expressed anguish against leaders at a recent party meeting in Hubballi over their opposition to giving tickets to disqualified Congress-JD(S) MLAs for the December 5 Assembly bypolls in 15 Assembly constituencies has surfaced.
Reacting to the audio, former chief minister and JD(S) leader Kumaraswamy said, “How the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) misused power and money was exposed yesterday. Now people have to judge them.”
Congress’s KC Venugopal said: “I think you all are aware of the latest video of BS Yediyurappa related to poaching of Congress and JD(S) MLAs. We have always said that BJP is misusing govt agencies to poach MLAs, now it's established beyond doubt. We'll approach Supreme Court with the evidence.”
Siddaramaiah said: “What Yediyurappa and Amit Shah did was conspiracy to murder democracy and a violation of the Constitution. Both the Chief Minister and Home Minister have no right to hold a constitutional post.”
Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President Dinesh Gundu Rao said Yediyurappa has revealed that BJP and party president Amit Shah had "masterminded" the defection of MLAs.
@bsybjp again confesses about operation Kamala & the immoral defection of @INCIndia MLA’s.— ದಿನೇಶ್ ಗುಂಡೂರಾವ್/ Dinesh Gundu Rao (@dineshgrao) November 1, 2019
He also clearly reveals that @AmitShah took care of the defectors for 2.5 months in Mumbai.
What more damning proof required that @BJP4India masterminded this entire operation. pic.twitter.com/Oi1PrbdsSN
Taking to Twitter, he wrote: "@bsybjp again confesses about operation Kamala & the immoral defection of @INCIndia MLAs. He also clearly reveals that @AmitShah took care of the defectors for 2.5 months in Mumbai. What more damning proof required that @BJP4India masterminded this entire operation.”
Somehow today the way you (party leaders) spoke, did not seem to be intended at saving this government. You are aware that the decision on 17 (MLAs) was not taken by Yediyurappa or any other state leader. It was known to the national president and under his watch for about two or two-and-a-half (months) they were kept in Mumbai and things happened. All of you are aware of it, right?" the chief minister was heard in the clip.
"For 2.5 to 3 months they did not go to their constituency or see their wives and children and were put up there... You are aware of it, right?" he can be heard asking party leaders.
Amid opposition from local party leaders in these 15 constituencies, Yediyurappa had recently assured that tickets would be given to disqualified MLAs if they wished to contest from the BJP and had appointed party contenders for the tickets there as heads of boards and corporations.
"Whether this election (by-elections) is won or lost is a different issue. But at this serious juncture in time, not even one of you has said we will stand by them (the defecting MLAs), come what may," the CM was heard saying.
“At a time when we were staring at a position where we could have remained in the opposition for the next three and three-fourths of the term, we have come to be the party in power. They went all the way to the Supreme Court for this. All of you have made long speeches and given advice, but have you ever thought what you would do had you been in their position?" he reportedly said.
Maybe I'm the criminal here, to have taken them (the defecting MLAs) into confidence and to sit in the CM's chair. I've done a crime now, I feel… I should not have come to this meeting. Not even one of you said ‘they sacrificed so we could come to power’. What is the point of them resigning from MLA posts, what was the need for it? They believed us and came, right? If you all had said that ‘it may be difficult for them to win, but we will work towards it’, I would have acknowledged it, but that kind of view has not come from either seniors or juniors here," the CM was purportedly heard saying.
He was also repeatedly heard saying those attending the meeting not to disclose the discussion that has taken place outside.
"Ultimately the central leadership will take the decision. We are not in a position to take a decision... it is not possible also," Yediyurappa said.
Ironically enough, the video ended with him requesting the gathering not to put out such differing viewpoints in the public domain.
Bypolls to 15 out of 17 seats represented by disqualified MLAs, whose resignation and absence from trust vote lead to the fall of Congress-JD(S) coalition government, and made way for BJP to come to power, will be held on December 5.
The BJP needs to win at least six seats in the bypolls to 15 constituencies to be in a majority in the 224-member assembly, which will still have two vacant seats — Maski and RR Nagar.