Union Minister of Finance Arun Jaitley on Saturday claimed that the “Yeddy diaries” revealing alleged corruption by Bharatiya Janata Party leader BS Yeddyurappa were a “self-serving forgery of the Congress party”.
In a blog post on his official Facebook page, Jaitley dismissed as false a report in news magazine The Caravan, which claimed that Yeddyurappa, or BSY, the former chief minister of Karnataka, had made diary entries noting payoffs of Rs 1,800 crore to senior leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party, judges and lawyers. The Caravan made this claim on the basis of documents in the Income Tax Department’s possession since August 2017.
“The forged and fabricated photocopies manufactured and provided by the Congress Party were passed off as BSY’s diary,” Jaitley wrote in his blog. Accusing the Congress of trying to turn voters against the BJP ahead of the 2019 general elections, Jaitley added, “Falsehood and forgeries can never influence a poll.”
Jaitley also claimed that the Congress party was using controversy to distract the public away from Congress leader Sam Pitroda’s recent comments questioning the BJP government on the recent airstrikes carried out at Balakot in Pakistan. “Faced with odds on a daily basis, the Congress Party needed to distract from the self-goal created by Sam Pitroda. He had questioned the Air Force’s targeted attack at Balakot. The ‘caravan’ of falsehood was ready for a ‘Rahul Bailout’,” Jaitley said in his blog.
The controversial diaries
The Caravan report claims that in 2017, the Income Tax Department found photocopies of diary entries, allegedly written by Yeddyurappa, while conducting a raid at the home of Congress leader DK Shivakumar. These papers list out alleged payoffs made to various BJP leaders, including Union Ministers Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari. The report also includes the scan of one document, in Kannada, that has the specific numbers: Rs 1,000 crore to the BJP’s Central Committee, Rs 150 crore each to Gadkari and Jaitley, Rs 250 crore to judges and so on. According to Caravan, each page of the document is signed by Yeddyurappa.
In a significant claim, the report alleged that an Income Tax officer had written to Arun Jaitley asking whether the department should investigate the diary entries in question.
Soon after the report was published, the Congress sought a Lokpal inquiry into the allegations. Yeddyurappa completely denied the allegations against him, calling them false and baseless. He provided the Income Tax Department with samples of his handwriting and signatures to prove that the diary entries were forged, and announced on Friday that he would file a defamation suit against Congress leaders for the allegations.
Meanwhile, the Central Board of Direct Taxation, which controls the Income Tax Department, also refuted the report, saying that it had already investigated the diary entries after they were seized, and found nothing substantial in them. It claimed that the papers had been sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory in Hyderabad in April 2018 for verification, but since they were photocopies, forensic verification could not be carried out.
“All efforts have been made by the Income Tax Office concerned to procure the originals of the disputed writings. However, the details about the place and custody of the original writings and, if the original writings exist, are not available,” the CBDT claimed in its statement on Friday.