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Karnataka phone tapping row: "If I was involved I would have panicked", says HDK


Bengaluru, Aug 18: With Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa announcing a CBI probe into the alleged phone tapping case during the previous JD(S)-Congress coalition government, former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy on Sunday said he was ready for probe by even an international agency. The Congress, however, seemed to be a divided house.

Former Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy

"Let them do any inquiry, whether it is a CBI inquiry or any other agency of international standard, or let them talk to Trump (US President Donald Trump), and get it inquired through some one from his side," Kumaraswamy, who has already denied the allegations, told reporters here.

While Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah has welcomed the CBI probe hoping the BJP does not use the central investigating agency for "political vendetta," the Congress party on its official Twitter handle has said telephone tapping "was a lies" and a conspiracy for hate politics. Kumaraswamy, who is also the JD(S) leader, hit out at the electronic media for its coverage on the issue, saying no one can do anything to him.

"I have been observing the conduct of electronic media, their intention and attempts are to keep Kumaraswamy away from people in the state politics. They will not be successful in it," he said.

Stating that he was not aware as to why his name was linked to the phone tapping case, Kumaraswamy stressed, "If I was involved I would have panicked, I'm open... There is not even an iota... to point fingers at me." Yediyurappa's announcement comes amid signs that the case is gaining political steam ever since disqualified JD(S) MLA A H Vishwanath, who served as the JD(S) state president and turned rebel later, last week dropped the political bomb, accusing the Kumaraswamy government of tapping phones and spying on more than 300 leaders, including him.

Several BJP leaders, including former chief minister Jagadish Shettar, have directly accused Kumaraswamy of being behind the episode to save his government which was then rocked by dissidence within. The coalition government ultimately collapsed last month with the chief minister losing the trust vote in the assembly. Yediyurappa on Sunday said he will order a CBI probe into the allegations citing demands by several Congress leaders.

Congress leaders, including Siddaramaiah, M Mallikarjuna Kharge and home minister in the previous alliance government M B Patil, have sought a probe. Another key party leader and former minister D K Shivakumar has rejected the snooping charges and appeared to side with Kumaraswamy.

"I welcome the decision of @BSYBJP to hand over the phone tapping case to CBI. But, in the past, @BJP4India has used CBI as its puppet to unleash its venomous political vendetta. Hope @BJP4Karnataka leaders does not have similar intentions this time," Siddaramaiah tweeted on Sunday following announcement of probe by the chief minister.

Asserting that allegations of 'Operation Kamala' being done in Karnataka is as serious as allegations of phone tapping, he, in another tweet, said, "I urge @BSYBJP to order CBI investigation into alleged Operation Kamala also. I heard they acted on my advice in phone tapping case & I hope they act on this issue as well."

According to reports, phones of those close to Siddaramaiah, who was the then coalition coordination committee chief, had come under the watch of the government. However, the state Congress in a tweet termed phone tapping as "lies" and a conspiracy for hate politics.

Alleging that Yediyurappa was behaving like an "underground criminal" after becoming the chief minister in an "immoral" way by "Operation Kamala" through the backdoor, the party in a tweet said, "In Modi administration CBI was working as a frontal unit of the BJP. Phone tapping was a lies and a conspiracy for hate politics."

Hitting out at the Congress, senior BJP leader R Ashoka expressed surprise over differences in opinion on phone tapping probe within the grand old party. Pointing out that several Congress leaders, including Siddaramaiah, had demanded a probe, he said, "Before handing over for probe they demanded for inquiry, now they are blaming the chief minister, it is not right."

"Without even knowing who was behind the tapping, they are blaming us of vendetta politics. None of us know who is behind it, it should come out through probe," Ashoka added.


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