A video of two Karnataka Congress leaders accusing state unit chief DK Shivakumar of corruption emerged on social media on Wednesday.
Before a press conference on Tuesday, former Lok Sabha member VS Ugrappa and Congress media coordinator MA Salim were speaking to each other about the alleged corruption in irrigation projects. Shivakumar was the irrigation minister in the coalition government of the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular). The government was in power for 14 months and collapsed in June 2019.
“There are adjustments connected to DK [Shivakumar],” Salim can be heard saying in the video, The Hindu reported. “It is a big scandal. If dug deeper, it will reach him [Shivakumar] also. How much money would Shivakumar have made in this if a commission agent can make Rs 50 crore to Rs 100 crore?”
Salim added that the commission for irrigation contracts had risen from 8% to 12%.
In their conversation, the two Congress leaders also compared Shivakumar’s way of speaking with former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
Salim said that Shivakumar “sounds drunk” while talking, whereas Siddaramaiah is “very strict”.
The Congress suspended Salim for six years and issued a show-cause notice to Ugrappa, who is mostly seen listening or responding in monosyllables in the video.
Shivakumar did not deny that the conversation took place, but rejected the allegations against him. “You have shown that they have spoken ill against me,” the Karnataka Congress unit chief told PTI. “I will not deny it. They have spoken against me. Ugrappa has give a statement in a press conference.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Ugrappa held a press conference and accepted that he could have spoken in private and not before the media.
He claimed that Salim was only telling him about the allegations raised by the Bharatiya Janata Party. “Congress has never encouraged commission or corruption in awarding tenders,” Ugrappa added.
The developments came ahead of the crucial bye-polls to Karnataka’s Sindagi and Hanagal Assembly segments on October 30.