The audio clips have taken Karnataka by storm and created a furore in Parliament. Coming amidst the state’s volatile political situation, the clips—released by chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy as proof of alleged horse-trading attempts by the opposition BJP—prompted intense debate in the assembly, with speaker K.R.Ramesh Kumar expressing his anguish about the insinuations. One of the purported conversations mentioned a bribe of Rs 50 crore to the speaker. “It’s the wearer who knows where the shoe pinches,” said Ramesh Kumar as he requested the government for a fast-tracked probe into the matter.
Before Kumaraswamy’s dramatic press conference on February 8, an air of uncertainty hung over his government’s survival. The JD(S)-Congress coalition has been struggling to contain four of its legislators who have struck a rebellious stand, with concerns that a few others could also abstain or cross-vote, if such a situation arose during the ongoing budget session. But, by releasing the audio clips, he caught the BJP off-guard, sharpening focus on the Opposition’s alleged attempts to topple his government by inducing defections. Identifying the voices in the conversation, Kumaraswamy claimed it was state BJP chief B.S. Yeddiurappa offering allurements to JD(S) MLA Naganagouda Kandakur’s son Sharanagouda to convince his father to resign. Since May, when they formed a government, the Congress and JD(S) have regularly complained about the BJP’s attempts to woo their legislators. The BJP rebuffed such charges, saying the coalition’s troubles were its internal matter.