Sextapes and rebels: Big 3 raise the stakes

With 2 days to bypolls, HDK on a smear campaign with sleaze tape; top leaders of all parties descend on North Karnataka

Published: 03rd December 2019 06:05 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd December 2019 06:05 AM   |  A+A-

Former Prime Minister and JDS supremo H D Deve Gowda meets supporters outside party candidate Ashok Pujari’s house in Gokak | Ashishkrishna HP

Express News Service

BELAGAVI: The top leadership of the JDS and Congress is going full throttle at the fag-end of the campaign in all constituencies of North Karnataka on Monday and Tuesday, aiming to target disqualified MLAs. Former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy is expected to drag some disqualified MLAs into incidents related to the much-hyped honeytrap audio and videotapes by releasing fresh audios and videos, which purportedly involve noted political leaders, before the December 5 bypolls, according to sources. 

The Congress camp, headed by Karnataka party in-charge KC Venugopal, is also on a whirlwind tour, highlighting the way disqualified MLAs deserted their constituencies during the recent floods. To bolster their campaign, a phalanx of top leaders from all political parties thronged the North Karnataka constituencies of Gokak, Athani and Kagwad. Former PM Deve Gowda, Kumaraswamy, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, former CM Jagadish Shettar, Venugopal, Basangouda Patil Yatnal, Deputy CM Laxman Savadi and others campaigned hard for their candidates.

Kumaraswamy seems to be upping the heat on the disqualified MLAs. A 5 minute, 14 second audiotape of a conversation, purportedly between a noted political leader and a woman, in which the man repeatedly requests her to send her nude photos, went viral on social media sites soon after former Kumaraswamy stated in Belagavi that the voice in the audio resembled that of the Gokak “Sahukar” (Ramesh Jarkiholi).

Kumaraswamy told reporters at Belagavi airport on Monday, “If the voice in the audio is checked, it seems to resemble the voice of Sahukar. But its authenticity needs to be checked. Yediyurappa should hand over the audiotape for investigation to the CBI to bring out the truth.’’

The audiotape, which was posted on the wall of the Facebook account ‘Kumaraswamy For CM’, had drawn 2.9K likes, 466K views and 3.4K shares until Monday evening.At a time when the election campaign touched a crescendo in Gokak, the release of the audio is likely to affect the BJP’s prospects.

Venugopal fervently appealed to the people of Gokak to defeat Jarkiholi as he had left them to deal with the floods, while he was horse-trading in Mumbai. “Despite being aware of how people were losing their properties and crops in the calamity, Jarkiholi remained busy with rebel activities in Mumbai. When the flood crippled lives in North Karnataka, BJP National President Amit Shah was busy organising horse-trading of MLAs in Mumbai. CM Yediyurappa himself revealed how Shah organised horse-trading of MLAs,’’ said Venugopal.

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