Karnataka Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar, speaking about a controversial audio clip in which it was alleged that he had been influenced with a payment of Rs 50 crore, said on Tuesday that he felt like a rape victim, who might have been raped only once but was made to relive the incident a 100 times in court.
For the second day, the clip – released by chief minister HD Kumaraswamy on Friday purportedly of a conversation between BJP state chief BS Yeddyurappa and Janata Dal (Secular) MLA Nagangouda Kandkur’s son Sharanagouda – consumed the entire day’s proceedings with the Congress-JDS coalition legislators and the opposition BJP trading charges.
It was during these discussions that Kumar made the statement about rape while trying to remark that the discussions for the past two days had been about him.
“My situation is like that of a rape victim. The rape happened once and if it was left at that it would have passed. But because a complaint was made, the accused’s advocate will ask in court how the rape was done? For how long it happened?” Kumar said.
“After the rape victim comes out, when asked if they got justice they reply that the accused raped only once but in court it was done a 100 times. My situation is such that whoever broached it, I have been brought to the street,” Kumar said in an apparent attempt at jest. Not a single lawmaker raised an objection to the statement, with many falling over in laughter and thumping the desk.
The discussion on the day was centred on the Speaker’s suggestion to Kumaraswamy on Monday to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to look into the clip and submit a report in 15 days to help clear Kumar’s name.
This was opposed by the BJP leaders who argued that a House committee was a more appropriate institution to probe the allegations. Breaking his silence on the matter in the House, former chief minister Yeddyurappa admitted that a meeting had occurred in Devdurga in Raichur district. However, he alleged that the chief minister had put out a fabricated clip of the meeting.
“We are saying that we will not agree to an SIT because it comes under the chief minister. He should have advised Sharanagouda not to go to the meeting when he was informed. Second, when Sharanagouda came – the chief minister has said he sent him – whatever discussion happened you got it recorded and edited and publicised,” Yeddyurappa said.
The former chief minister said the entire conversation lasted around 35 minutes and yet only a two-minute clip had been released. “According to the clip that he released, the chief minister is involved in the following offences: publicising a false document and knowingly publicising said document. These are crimes under Indian Penal Code,” he said.
“That CD of the conversation of 35 minutes was reduced to three minutes because of a political conspiracy. If he had information that the Speaker had been named and he went ahead with the press conference, then it appears that the intention was to drag his name into this. As a chief minister you have hatched a conspiracy, that much is clear,” Yeddyurappa said.
Meanwhile, former chief minister and the coalition’s coordination committee chief Siddaramaiah said the allegations in the clip implied that criminal acts had been committed. As a result, he argued, there was no question of the matter being looked into by a House or judicial committee, because both were fact-finding bodies and did not have prosecuting powers.
“The implication of what has been said in the clip is that criminal acts might have been committed and some of the allegations attract provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and other sections of the Indian Penal Code,” Siddaramaiah said. “Once the chief minister was given this clip it would have amounted to suppression of evidence If he would not have made it public,” he added.
Chief minister Kumaraswamy, meanwhile, took exception to Yeddyurappa and other BJP leaders’ comments against the police force. “When a new government is formed, do government servants change? Can we bring them from other states? The political leaders might change but they remain,” he said.
Kumaraswamy highlighted the fact that he had retained many of the top bureaucrats from Yeddyurappa’s three-day tenure as chief minister in May in top positions. “Yeddyurappa had named an additional director general of police to head the intelligence department during his three-day tenure as chief minister. I have retained this person in the post. His principle secretary is now additional chief secretary for the finance department. So, we can’t doubt them or these establishments,” he said.