BENGALURU: Several Congress leaders in Karnataka on Thursday sought a probe into allegations of phone tapping during the previous coalition government headed by H D Kumaraswamy in which they were partners, as the ruling BJP upped the ante on the matter.
Reacting to the issue, former Chief Minister and Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah told reporters: “Phone tapping, I dont know. Let them investigate, let them investigate and take action against the culprits.”
Phone tapping is a serious offence. Let there be an investigation on the issue & take action against those responsible, if proved.
— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) August 15, 2019
“Phone tapping is a serious offence. Let there be an investigation on the issue & take action against those responsible, if proved,” he later tweeted.
On Wednesday, disqualified JD(S) MLA from Hunsur, A H Vishwanath who had served as the JDS state president and turned rebel later,accused the previous Congress-JDS coalition government of tapping phones and spying on more than 300 leaders including him.
As the matter snowballed into a major controversy, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa had on Wednesday said, “I am observing the developments.I will discuss with the Chief Secretary (T M Vijay Bhaskar) and think about further action.”
Kumaraswamy has denied allegations of phone tapping during his tenure.
“I was the one who kept repeating that that Chief Ministers position was not permanent. There was no need for me to remain in and save the chair (of CM) by tapping phones.
Allegations made against me by some people in this matter is far from truth,” he had tweeted.
Many BJP leaders including former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar have directly accused Kumaraswamy.
“If the tapping has happened during Kumaraswamys time you can understand how genuine he is. To cling to power and chair he has tapped phones of opponents, partner party leader Siddaramaiah and disgruntled MLAs,” Shettar said.
“Those behind it, even if it is Kumaraswamy himself, action should be taken against them in accordance with law,” he demanded.
Speaking to reporters in Mysuru on Thursday, Vishwanath sought a probe as he also indicated that phone tapping would not have happened without the knowledge of the then Chief Minister, without taking Kumaraswamy’s name.
Senior Congress leader and Home Minister during the Kumaraswamy-led coalition government, M B Patil, said,he has come to know about the phone tapping allegations through the media and there was need to find the truth behind it.
“Some within the (Home) department told me it was not true, but some have said there was need to find out truth…
I demand and will also write to the Chief Minister to conduct a time bound inquiry.
If it is true, action should be taken against culprits,” he said.
Pointing out that Ramakrishna Hegde had to resign as Chief Minister in the past following similar phone tapping allegations, veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said government should immediately probe and find who was behind it and why it was done.
Hitting out at the BJP, JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda said “I can speak much on such issues. What is happening in which state, what is happening at the Centre.
What is happening here. What has happened during various Chief Ministers, I can discuss.”
Responding to a question about BJP alleging that Kumaraswamy tapped phones to save his government, he said “They dont have any work.
What all they have done..they openly took people (referring to alleged poaching of MLAs). Do they have any shame?”
Another Congress legislator Tanveer Sait termed phone tapping as an infringement on individual privacy and freedom and said there was need for a detailed probe.
Senior BJP leader R Ashoka said he had raised the phone tapping allegation six months ago as he was aware about the functioning of the department since he was a former Home Minister.
Terming phone tapping as a “crime”, he said, “things have come to light now as Police Commissioner (Bengaluru) Bhaskar Rao’s phone was tapped or else it would not have come to light.”
“I know that Bhaskar Rao’s phone was tapped, I have information about whose phones were tapped,” Ashoka claimed.
The controversy came to light as Bengaluru police commissioner Bhaskar Rao earlier this month ordered an inquiry into the phone tapping incident against the backdrop of a recently leaked telephone conversation purportedly between him and someone in Delhi lobbying on his behalf with some political heavyweights for the post he is occupying now.
Source: Press Trust of India