Former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa on Friday claimed that corruption allegations made by the Congress against him were false and baseless, and he will file a defamation case against the party’s leaders, News18 reported.
Yeddyurappa’s remarks came soon after the Congress sought an inquiry by the Lokpal into a news report claiming that the Bharatiya Janata Party leader had allegedly made diary entries noting payoffs of Rs 1,800 crore to senior party leaders, judges and lawyers. News magazine The Caravan made the claim on the basis of documents in the Income Tax Department’s possession since August 2017.
Yeddyurappa said the Opposition party was frustrated with the “growing popularity” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party. Yeddyurappa also claimed that the Congress had planted the news report in the media to gain political mileage.
“The Congress doesn’t have any development issues to discuss in public,” Yeddyurappa said. “Congress party and its leaders are bankrupt of ideas...they have realised that their defeat in the 2019 election is imminent. They have lost the battle before it began.”
Yeddyurappa claimed that the documents that the Congress had cited were forged, and officials in the income tax department had already proved so.
Union minister and BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad also addressed a press conference to respond to the allegations. He said that the Congress was “peddling news without facts”, and shows spokesperson Randeep Surjewala’s “desperation and disturbed mindset”.
“The Congress party where in many top leaders are out on bail and suffering many court proceedings has now resorted to create a web of lies,” Prasad said. “The authenticity of the diary on whose basis the Congress has made the allegations has been denied by D Shivakumar [from whose house it was found during an income tax raid] himself.”
According to The Caravan, the diary was seized by the tax department during a raid on the home of senior Congress leader DK Shivakumar in August 2017.
‘The Yeddy diaries’
The documents comprise copies of diary entries, allegedly in Yeddyurappa’s handwriting in Kannada, noting the payoffs. The entries were made in a 2009 diary, but it is not clear when the payments were actually made. Each copy of the pages bears Yeddyurappa’s signature, according to The Caravan.
Yeddyurappa was the chief minister of Karnataka from 2008 to 2011.
The diary entries note that the BJP leader paid the party’s central committee Rs 1,000 crore, Arun Jaitley and Nitin Gadkari Rs 150 crore each, Rajnath Singh Rs 100 crore, and LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi Rs 50 crore each, the report claimed. Jaitley, Gadkari and Singh are now Union ministers. Advani and Joshi are veteran BJP leaders.
The diary entries note that Yeddyurappa also paid Rs 10 crore for “Gadkari’s son’s marriage”, Rs 250 crore to “judges”, and Rs 50 crore to “advocates (fee paid for cases)”.
The Caravan report claimed that a senior income tax official wrote to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley about the possibility of further investigation, but the minister “chose not to act”. None of the leaders named in the report responded to The Caravan’s request for a response.
The diary entries also include amounts allegedly paid to eight Karnataka MLAs, some of whom helped Yeddyurappa get the required support to form the state government in 2008, and then got ministerial posts. Seven MLAs were allegedly paid Rs 20 crore each, and one was paid Rs 10 crore. These payments were allegedly made by mining baron G Janardhana Reddy, the report said. Reddy is out on bail in a ponzi scheme case.
The alleged diary entries also showed that 26 people paid Yeddyurappa Rs 2,690 crore – each ranging from Rs 5 crore to Rs 500 crore.