Senior Congress leader DK Shivakumar on Friday denied allegations that the former Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government in Karnataka had conducted phone surveillance during its tenure, PTI reported. This came two days after Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa ordered an investigation into the alleged phone-tapping of politicians, police officials and journalists during the previous government’s regime.
“Phone-tapping has not happened...I have also inquired and asked people about it...it is all lies, and there is no room for such things,” Shivakumar was quoted as saying. “Our Congress-JD(S) government did not get involved in such things. Yediyurappa can conduct a probe, let him probe. We are not opposed to it.” Shivakumar was the water resources minister in the HD Kumaraswamy-led Karnataka government.
The phone-tapping controversy came into focus after an audio tape of recently-appointed Bengaluru Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao was allegedly leaked to the media, according to IANS. The tape’s contents alleged that Rao and two other Indian Police Service officers were competing for the top police post.
“The chief minister has directed Chief Secretary TM Vijaya Bhaskar to inquire into the reported tapping of phones of political leaders, rebel legislators of the coalition allies and some IPS officers,” Union Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers DV Sadananda Gowda was quoted as saying.
Several Congress leaders from the state on Thursday also demanded an inquiry into the matter. Senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah said that he was unaware of any phone-tapping under the previous coalition government. “Phone tapping is a serious offence,” he tweeted. “Let there be an investigation on the issue and take action against those responsible, if proved.”
Former Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, on Wednesday denied the allegations, saying that they were “far from truth”. “I was the one who kept repeating that the chief minister’s position was not permanent. There was no need for me to remain in and save the chair [of chief minister] by tapping phones,” he tweeted. However, disqualified Janata Dal (Secular) MLA AH Vishwanath, who had served as the party’s state president, had accused the coalition government of tapping 300 phones during the 14-month tenure, NDTV reported.