Senior Congress leader and former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has asked BS Yediyurappa to order a CBI probe into "Operation Kamal". Siddaramaiah said that he heard Yediyurappa decided to handover the phone tapping case to CBI on his advice, which is a welcome step. But the allegations of ‘Operation Kamala’ in Karnataka are as serious as the charges of phone tapping, and therefore the CM should also order a probe by the central agency in the case.
On Sunday, Yediyurappa said that he will order a CBI probe into the phone tapping allegations levelled during the previous coalition government of Congress and JD(S) headed by HD Kumaraswamy. He cited demands by several political parties including the Congress to order a probe by the CBI.
Yediyurappa’s announcement comes amid signs that the phone tapping scandal was gaining political steam ever since disqualified JD(S) MLA AH Vishwanath, who served as JD(S) state president and turned rebel later, last week dropped the political bomb, accusing the HD Kumaraswamy government of tapping phones and spying on more than 300 people, including him. Congress leaders, including Siddaramaiah, M Mallikarjuna Kharge and former home minister MB Patil, had sought a probe. Former minister DK Shivakumar, however, 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, too had come under the watch.
Several BJP leaders, including former CM Jagadish Shettar, have directly accused Kumaraswamy of being behind the episode to save the coalition government. The Congress-JD(S) coalition government collapsed last month after several ruling parties MLAs resigned from the Assembly.
"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 Karnataka BJP leaders don’t have similar intentions this time," Siddaramaiah said in a tweet. The former chief minister, however, added that the charges of horse-trading to topple the Congress-JD(S) alliance government are equally serious and merit equal consideration by the central probe agency.
"Allegations of ‘Operation Kamala’ being done in Karnataka is as serious as allegations of phone tapping. I urge BS Yediyurappa to order CBI investigation into alleged Operation Kamala also. I heard they acted on my advice in phone tapping case and I hope they act on this issue as well," he added. Operation Kamala is what the opposition has referred to as the BJP’s alleged attempts to win over its legislators through offers of money or position in order to destabilise the government.
Reacting to the Chief Minister announcing a CBI probe into charges of phone-tapping allegedly at his behest when he was Chief Minister, Kumaraswamy, who has already denied the charges, said, "Let them do any inquiry, whether it is a CBI inquiry or any other agency of international standard, or let them talk to Trump (US President Donald Trump) and get it inquired through someone from his side."
The Congress, however, in a tweet termed the phone-tapping allegation as a bundle of lies and a conspiracy to further the hate politics practiced by the BJP. Alleging that Yediyurappa was behaving like an underground criminal after becoming the CM in an immoral way, the Congress said, "In Modi administration, CBI was working as a frontal unit of the BJP. Phone tapping was a (bundle of) lies and a conspiracy for hate politics," it said.