A political furore has sparked off in Karnataka after the audio of a purported phone conversation got leaked in which state Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister JC Madhuswamy can be heard saying that the Basavaraj Bommai-led government was barely pulling through.
After the video went viral over the weekend, Chief Minister Bommai on Tuesday clarified that the comments were made in a “different context”, PTI reported.
In the purported audio, Madhuswamy tells a social worker identified as Bhaskar: “We are not running a government here, we are just managing, pulling through for the next seven-eight months.”
On the phone call, Bhaskar had complained about a cooperative bank, according to PTI. In response, Madhuswamy expressed his helplessness about Karnataka Cooperation Minister ST Somashekhar’s “inaction”.
“I know these issues,” the law minister said. “I have brought this to the notice of Somashekhar. He is not taking action. What to do?”
After the audio clip became public, Somashekhar said “he [Madhuswamy] feels that he is the only intelligent person, he has to remove it from his head first”, PTI reported.
BJP MLA Munirathna Naidu sought Madhuswamy’s immediate resignation on Monday.
“He is part of the government and is participating in every matter at the Cabinet, so he also has a share in it,” Naidu stated. “Being in a responsible position and making such statements is not right, it is not befitting to his seniority.”
Meanwhile, the chief minister on Tuesday said he will talk to other ministers who are upset about Madhuswamy’s remarks.
“He [Madhuswamy] had said in a different context,” Bommai told reporters in Bengaluru. “I will talk to him. The context was different, so there is no need to take it in a wrong sense. He had spoken specifically with respect to some cooperative related issue. Things are fine, there is no problem.”
Responding to criticism from other state ministers, Madhuswamy said he was only agreeing with the caller, NDTV reported.
“The government is running,” he told the news channel. “I simply agreed to what the other person on the call said. It was provocation. Just agreed with him saying ‘yes there’s no government’.”
The comments came amid speculation that Bommai will be replaced as the chief minister due to growing dissatisfaction about his functioning.
On August 12, the BJP’s Karnataka in-charge Arun Singh had said that the BJP would contest the next Assembly election in the state under Bommai’s leadership, according to NDTV.
“There is no change of guard [in Karnataka] and the entire issue was created by [Karnataka Congress chief] DK Shivakumar and [former chief minister] Siddaramaiah because they don’t have an issue,” .
Bommai, who took charge from BS Yediyurappa as the chief minister, completed one year in office on July 28.