In a setback to the BJP government in Karnataka led by B S Yediyurappa, the High Court has ordered an investigation against the chief minister for allegedly trying to woo JD(S) MLAs to defect to the BJP with the promise of money and a cabinet berth.
Yediyurappa and his party members had allegedly lured a set of MLAs in 2019 to defect to the BJP to destabilise the Congress-JDS coalition government in the state and attain power.
The then chief minister HD Kumaraswamy had released an audiotape containing a conversation of Yediyurappa trying to lure JD(S) MLA Naganagouda Kandkur’s son Sharanagouda.
Justice John Michael Cunha passed the order while vacating the order of February 2019 that stayed the investigation into the case. Yediyurappa had filed a petition in the court for quashing the FIR, but the court rejected the plea.
The police had registered an FIR following a complaint by Sharanagouda, who had recorded the conversation with Yediyurappa, the then state president of the BJP.
The Congress had in the past demanded a judicial probe into the audio tape and also red-flagged the issue when former minister Ramesh Jarkiholi, who is now an accused in a sex scandal, said that CP Yogeshwar had arranged for ₹9 crore to fund ‘Operation Kamala’, the defection plan hatched by the BJP. After coming to power, Yediyurappa rewarded Yogeshwar with a cabinet berth (tourism and environment ministry).
Meanwhile, in another development, BJP’s own rural development minister K S Eshwarappa has written to governor Vajubhai Vala complaining about the chief minister’s “interference” in his ministry’s functioning, “authoritarian administration” and indiscriminate sanction of funds to select MLAs.
The Congress was quick to demand the removal of Yediyurappa.