BENGALURU: For the second day in a row, the Legislative Assembly witnessed a marathon debate over the audio tapes — purportedly showing BJP leaders attempting to lure coalition MLAs — with no conclusive decision. Refusing to budge from its stance, the BJP categorically refused to accept a Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe, and insisted that the Speaker set up a House committee or order a judicial inquiry. The ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition, on the other hand, refused to consider anything except a SIT.
Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar has now invited opposition leader B S Yeddyurappa and floor leader H D Kumaraswamy for a meeting to resolve the deadlock ahead of Wednesday’s session. Leaders of both parties will meet the Speaker at 10.30 am in his chamber to arrive at an amicable solution so that the matter does not take up more time of the House.
For two days now, legislators have only been discussing the controversial tapes, which also contain material that allegedly raises questions over the Speaker’s integrity. The Speaker had suggested a SIT probe.
“House committees or judicial probe panels are only fact-finding bodies. Only a SIT can prosecute and file charges,” said Siddaramaiah, CLP leader, reacting to BJP’s rejection of SIT. He added that criminal offences had been committed, and the matter should be taken up under the Prevention of Corruption Act and Indian Penal Code.
The BJP did not dispute that criminal acts had taken place, but chose to hold the CM as the accused. As soon as the session began J C Madhu Swamy (BJP) appealed to the Speaker not to hand over the case to SIT. “You can recommend a House- monitored probe by the privileges committee. Such criminal prosecution (by SIT) will set a bad precedent, and will unnecessarily harass the MLAs,” he said. Several BJP leaders, like B Sriramulu, backed Madhu Swamy.
While BJP members contended that a SIT probe by the police may lead to a witch-hunt against them, members of the ruling coalition maintained that there was nothing for the innocent to be afraid of. The Speaker was forced to adjourn the House when there was chaos after the CM raised the case of missing JD(S) MLA Narayana Gowda, hinting that BJP was involved.
“When did MLAs in the State become commodities for sale? BJP alleges that it has started with me in 2014. I am ready to institute a probe into these cases from that year,” he said.