Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Sunday said he will order a CBI probe into the alleged phone-tapping scandal that took place during the previous JDS-led coalition government of HD Kumaraswamy in the state.
"On the telephone tapping issue, several leaders, including Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah, have said it should be probed and truth should come out, so I have decided to order a CBI probe. Tomorrow itself I will order the probe," Yediyurappa told reporters in Bengaluru.
He also said it was the expectation of the people of the state that a detailed inquiry should be made and the culprits punished.
Yediyurappa's announcement comes after the allegations sparked a massive political row in the state.
Former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy said he was ready for a probe by even an international agency.
"Let them do any inquiry, whether it is a CBI inquiry or any other agency of the international standard, or let them talk to Trump (US President Donald Trump), and get it inquired through someone from his side," Kumaraswamy said.
The disqualified JDS MLA A H Vishwanath, who served as the JDS state president and turned rebel later, last week accused the H D Kumaraswamy government of tapping phones and spying on more than 300 leaders, including him.
This charge has been categorically denied by Kumaraswamy who said in a tweet, "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 the truth."
Congress leaders, including Siddaramaiah, M Mallikarjuna Kharge and home minister in the alliance government M B Patil, have sought a probe while another key party leader and former Minister D K Shivakumar has rejected the snooping charges and appeared to side with Kumaraswamy.
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.
Siddaramaiah has welcomed the decision of the chief minister even as he expressed apprehension if the agency was going to be used to "unleash venomous political vendetta" as has allegedly been done before.
"I welcome the decision of BS Yediyurappa to hand over the phone tapping case to CBI. But, in the past, BJP has used CBI as its puppet to unleash its venomous political vendetta. Hope BJP Karnataka leaders do not have similar intentions this time," Siddaramaiah's tweet read.
Vishwanath had also claimed snooping would not have happened without the knowledge of the then Chief Minister as the intelligence wing was under his control.
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.
The controversy surfaced as Bengaluru police commissioner Bhaskar Rao earlier this month ordered an inquiry into 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 politicians for the post he is occupying now.
(With inputs from agencies)