BENGALURU: Two Congress functionaries were caught on camera badmouthing Karnataka PCC president DK Shivakumar and accusing him of being involved in corruption when he was a minister in the HD Kumaraswa-my-led JD(S)-Congress coalition governments.
Hours after a video clip of the conversation went viral, Congress expelled KPCC media coordinator MA Saleem and served a show-cause notice to spokesper-son and former MP from Ballari VS Ugrappa, who has to reply to the notice within three days. Shivakumar said: “Neither my party nor I have anything to do with the video. I’m not saying this conversation didn’t take place, but it’s a private talk between two individuals.”
Saleem and Ugrappa, in a chat minutes before a scheduled press conference at the KPCC office on Tuesday, were heard talking about alleged corruption by Shivakumar. Though the microphone in front of them was off, they didn’t realise the microphones of TV channels were on.
The chat was about some recent income-tax department raids on three Karnataka contractors involved in irrigation and highway projects. Shivakumar was the irrigation minister in the Kumaraswamy government.
“Earlier, there was a 6-8% cut (commission) but it went up to 10-12% during Shivakumar’s time. If the matter (I-T probe) is dug deeper, his (Shivakumar) role will also come out,” Saleem tells Ugrappa in the recorded chat.
He added that many associates of Shivakumar have made huge sums of money. “Mulagund (Shivakumar’s close aide) is worth Rs 50 crore to Rs 100 crore. Imagine how much (wealth) Shivakumar must have made. He is a collection king,” he said.
Saleem also took a dig at Shivakumar’s public speaking, recalling his recent statement to the media where he struggled to pronounce Jallianwala Bagh. “He stammers while speaking in public. I don’t know if it is due to low BP or he was drunk. His body language makes people believe he is a drunkard,” he said.
After the video went viral on Tuesday, Ugrappa said Saleem was only saying what BJP leaders have been talking about. “Shivakumar is a good administrator and has a pro-people mindset. He made his wealth through business, not politics,” he said.