Bengaluru, Feb 12, 2019 : An audio tape of Karnataka BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa’s conversation with the son of a JD(S) MLA to allegedly persuade his father to switch sides has kicked up a huge political controversy in the state. Even as the opposition BJP says a SIT won’t have the power to summon MLAs, Speaker Ramesh Kumar says he takes a strong view of the fact that his name has been dragged into the controversy. In the audio tape, Yeddyurappa purportedly tells JD(S) MLA Naganagouda’s son Sharana Gouda that the Speaker is on “the BJP side” and has been “booked” for Rs 50 crore, News 18 reported.
Speaking to News18, Ramesh Kumar says he doesn’t take kindly to such aspersions being cast on him, adding that the controversy merits criminal investigation.
There are serious allegations doing the rounds that the Speaker has been "booked" for Rs 5 crore…
People who want to get their way, think of these things.
Is it not breach of privilege against the Speaker?
It is. Not just individual privilege, but of the whole House. If some bystander had said this, it would have been still okay…
But it is not some bystander.
I have prima facie concluded that it must be one of the people previously involved in getting MLAs to resign. But I also get the feeling that he (the voice on the audio clip) must be a member of the House.
So whoever this person is, he has indulged in horse trading before?
100 percent. That has been established by the very conversation in the audio.
Will you go by the BJP’s demand for a judicial inquiry or look at a special investigation team?
Judicial inquiries have a different dimension. This is a criminal act. Once established, forensic tests will reveal the identity of the person. Judicial inquiry can’t deal with these things. They have no authority for punitive action.
So you do feel it deserves criminal investigation and prosecution?
100 percent. Not only prosecution; if by any chance it is a member of the House, it is far more serious.
What action does it invite?
Look at the 1951 case and how Jawaharlal Nehru dealt with HG Mudgal, the MP who entered into a cash-for-questions understanding with Bullion Merchants Association. He was about to be expelled from Parliament, but got to know and resigned. So when the expulsion issue is taken up in Parliament, someone raises issues of how to expel someone who is not a member of the House. Nehru says it is more serious if he resigns at nth minute, it’s a grave offence. And he was expelled.
Such members can contest again?
As of now, they are being allowed to contest.
Do you feel they should be expelled?
Don’t put words in my mouth. I am only placing facts before you.
What about the disqualification petition filed by Congress against four of its MLAs who have repeatedly not attended legislative party meetings?
I got that petition just yesterday. I am guided by the rulebook and the law on that. I can’t take arbitrary action.