Reddy substantiates bribery charge against Kumaraswamy
Bellary, Aug 23: Substantiating his Rs 150 crore bribery allegation against Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and his ministerial colleagues and family members, by releasing evidence such as compact discs and audio tapes, suspended BJP legislator G Janardhana Reddy today sought a CBI probe into the entire episode.
Mr Reddy, who had first made the allegation on July seven, also filed a writ petition in the Karnataka High court seeking a CBI probe into the irregularities and bribery charges.
Addressing a press conference here, Mr Reddy accused Mr Kumaraswamy's family members, especially brother H D Balakrishna Gowda, of driving mine owners from Bellary by exerting pressure on mine owners through various forms. The mine owners were intimidated by anti-social elements and Mines and geology department officials, he claimed.
Though he did not directly implicate Mr Kumaraswamy in the issue, he said his main target was the Chief Minister as only after he assumed office the level of corruption had shot up.
Mr Reddy said this was only the first phase of his onslaught against the Chief Minister and he would come out with more facts.
Even as Mr Kumaraswamy and former Prime Minister H D Devegowda had dismissed the allegations as baseless and described release of the CDs as an attempt to slur the image of the family members, the Congress vociferously reiterated its demand for a CBI inquiry and urged Governor T N Chaturvedi to initiate proceedings to dismiss the government.
Dismissing Mr Reddy's revelations as a non-issue, Mr Kumaraswamy said it would not rock the JD (S)-BJP coalition government as legislators of both the parties had expressed confidence in his leadership.
Mr Reddy alleged that BSK Trading Company, owned by Mr Kumaraswamy's brothers Balakrishna Gowda and Ramesh, had threatened John Mines, one of the popular mines in Chitradurga and demanded 50 per cent of the production to be given to it. Besides, they had also been procuring material from other illegal mines. He further alleged that due the pressure mounted by the family members of Mr Kumaraswamy, John Mines owner Ramamurthy had died a fortnight ago in Bangalore.
Waving documents, Mr Reddy wondered how huge sums of money were found in the bank accounts of Ms Kavitha, wife of Mr Balakrishna Gowda. ''Ms Kavitha acted as the Reserve Bank of India for the family and was distributing funds to various members and also to other benamis. From one such payment of Rs five crore which came into Ms Kavita's account, she had issued a cheque for Rs three crore, the same day to Ms Chennamma Devegowda, wife of former Prime Minsiter H D Deve Gowda,'' he added.
He urged the Income Tax Department to probe these transactions.
The evidences released in support of his allegations included a recording of a noted exporter Aswini Paul on the alleged percentage of payments he had made to the Chief Minister and S K Modi, a big miner, from whom the family had allegedly demanded Rs 15 per tonne.
Reacting from Afzalpur in Gulbarga, Mr Kumaraswamy described the CDs released by Mr Reddy as ''fake and ''manipulated'' and termed the allegations against his family members baseless. In a separate statement, Mr Deve Gowda described Mr Reddy's move as a ''vicious attempt to tarnish the image of his family and the party''. The expose had been orchestrated by powerful lobbies whose overwhelming influence on the state machinery had been totally eliminated by the government led by Mr Kumaraswamy, he said.
The family members would take appropriate legal action, including filing of a criminal defamation suit, against Mr Reddy, he added.
Wasting no time, the Congress leaders reiterated their demand for a CBI probe and urged the Governor to initiate the process to sack Mr Kumaraswamy if he did not resign within 24 hours.'' While former Chief Minsiter N Dharam Singh claimed that Mr Kumaraswamy had lost the moral right to rule the state, Congress State President Mallikarjuna Kharge said only a CBI probe would bring out the truth.
Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council H K Patil said ''this is a humiliation to the people of Karnataka, they will not tolerate it''.
The BJP continued to distance itself from the controversy and said it would report to the Party High Command the deed of Mr Reddy.
BJP State President Sadananda Gowda said Mr Reddy had failed to subtantiate his charge against Mr Kumaraswamy and his act today had only further strengthened the bonds between the two coalition partners.
BJP Ministers in the coalition government K S Eswarappa, V S Acharya and B Nagaraja Shetty also echoed similar views.