‘Siddaramaiah sounds very strict while D.K. Shivakumar sounds drunk while talking’
A private conversation between two Congress leaders on alleged corruption in irrigation projects, with a reference to KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar, has led to a political slugfest between BJP and Congress. The conversation, captured inadvertently on microphone, also reveals divisions in the party.
The purported conversation, which took place during a media conference on October 12 between former MLC and MP V.S. Ugrappa and KPCC media coordinator M.A. Saleem, came to light on October 13.
In the video, Mr. Saleem is heard doing most of the talking while Mr. Ugrappa can be seen listening or responding in monosyllables. Mr. Saleem is heard saying that commission for irrigation contracts had gone up from 8% to 12%.
Mr. Saleem can be heard saying: “There are adjustments connected to DK (Shivakumar). It is a big scandal. If dug deeper, it will reach him (Mr. Shivakumar) also. How much money would Mr. Shivakumar have made in this if a commission agent can make ₹50 crore to ₹100 crore?”
Mr. Shivakumar was minister for Water Resources in the Cabinet of H.D. Kumaraswamy (2018-19).
The conversation also touches upon Mr. Shivakumar’s style of speaking and leadership. Mr. Saleem is heard saying: ‘Siddaramaiah sounds very strict’ while Mr. Shivakumar ‘sounds drunk’ while talking.
In a party that is sharply divided between the camps of Mr. Siddaramaiah and Mr. Shivakumar, the conversation is being seen as further proof of the game of one-upmanship between the two.
In a tweet on October 13, the BJP said: ‘Caesar’s wife should be above suspicion. However, KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar should clarify on things spoken against him by his party colleagues on the KPCC platform’.
In response, the KPCC tweeted: ‘The BJP should first provide its official seal on the allegation of BJP MLC A.H. Vishwanath on corruption by former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa’s family in irrigation contracts’.
Mr. Ugrappa convened a media conference to clarify his stand. He accused mediapersons of highlighting a private conversation. “There is no cold war between Mr. Siddaramaiah and Mr. Shivakumar. Why is a conversation taken out of context being taken seriously? Congress has never encouraged commission or corruption in awarding tenders,” he said.
K. Rahman Khan, chairperson of the KPCC Disciplinary Committee, is believed to have issued a show-cause notice to Mr. Ugrappa. KPCC Working President Saleem Ahmed told reporters that Mr. Saleem would be suspended. However, Mr. Saleem was removed from the primary membership of the Congress for six years.