BENGALURU: The Congress in Karnataka found itself in an embarrassing situation after two of its functionaries were caught on camera badmouthing KPCC president DK Shivkumar and also speaking about his alleged involvement in corruption when he was minister in the Siddaramaiah and the HD Kumaraswamy led JDS- Congress coalition governments.
Stung by the development, the party expelled the KPCC media coordinator M A Saleem
from the party and also served a show cause notice to its spokesperson and former MP from Ballari V S Ugrappa
sought to distance himself from the content of the video claiming he had not been involved in any corruption and whatever discussed in the video is far from truth. "Neither me nor my party has anything to do with the video. I am not saying this conversation has not happened but it is a private talk between the two individuals," he said.
Both Saleem and Ugrappa in a private conversation minutes before a press conference convened at the KPCC office on Tuesday were heard talking about corruption by Shivakumar. They were unaware that the mikes were on.
The conversation was in the context of the recent I-T raids on three contractors from Karnataka engaged in execution of irrigation and highway projects in the state. Interestingly, Shivakumar was the irrigation minister in the Kumaraswamy government.
"Earlier there was a 6-8 percent cut (bribe to be given to ministers and officials) but it went up to 10-12 percent during Shivkumar's time. If the matter (I-T raids) is dug deeper, his (Shivakumar) role will also come out," Saleem was heard telling Ugrappa.
He also said many of Shivakumar's followers have made huge money. "Mulagund (Shivakumar's close aide, according to Saleem) is worth Rs 50 crore to Rs 100 crore. Imagine how much (wealth) Shivakumar must have made," he said.
During the conversation, Saleem also took a dig at Shivakumar's way of speaking in public. "He stutters while speaking in public. I don't know if it is due to low BP or he is a drunkard. His body language also makes people believe he is a drunkard," he said.
On his part, Ugrappa said he and others made Shivakumar the KPCC president with a lot of effort but he is not doing much to uplift the party's prospects.
When the video went viral, Ugrappa indulged in damage control by saying Saleem was only telling what BJP leaders have been speaking about Shivakumar after the I-T raids.