A Congress MLA in Karnataka has denied that his wife got a call from a Bharatiya Janata Party leader asking for his support during the trust vote on Saturday. The Congress had released a recording of the purported conversation on Saturday to accuse the BJP of trying to poach its MLAs ahead of the trust vote.
The floor test did not take place as the BJP’s BS Yeddyurappa resigned as chief minister shortly before it was scheduled. The Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular), which formed an alliance after election results were declared, have the majority in the Assembly. Along with the Bahujan Samaj Party and two independents, the alliance has the support of 117 MLAs, while the BJP has the support of 104 leaders.
“This is neither my wife’s voice nor has she received any call,” Congress MLA Shivaram Hebbar said in a Facebook post minutes before the trust vote was scheduled. “I condemn whoever has released such audio clippings for political reasons. This is a fake audio tape.”
In one of several audio clips released by the Congress, BJP leaders BY Vijayendra and BJ Puttaswamy purportedly spoke to Hebbar’s wife and offered money and a Cabinet position if he defected during the floor test. Puttaswamy allegedly offered to close cases of a mining scam against the family, the Congress said.
The Congress, however, claimed on Monday that the audio clips were genuine. “We challenge it be sent to a forensic laboratory,” Congress leader VS Ugrappa said.
On Sunday, BJP’s IT cell chief Amit Malviya posted a screenshot of Hebbar’s post and accused Congress of “brazenly lying” and “spreading misinformation”. On the same day, the Congress had urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to order an investigation into his party’s alleged efforts to buy out opposing MLAs before the floor test.