In an embarrassing development for the Karnataka Congress unit, the video of two senior leaders of the party calling State Party President D.K. Shivakumar a collection agent and discussing commissions in government work went viral on social media on Wednesday.
A furious state Congress has suspended Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) media coordinator Saleem Ahmad from the party for 6 years. Another senior leader and former Lok Sabha MP V.S. Ugrappa has been served a show-cause notice by the Disciplinary Committee of Congress.
The incident took place on the sidelines of a press conference organised at the Congress headquarters in Bengaluru on Tuesday. Both the leaders were heard talking about the recent IT raids on former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa's close associates in Bengaluru.
Washing dirty laundry in public
Before the commencement of the press conference, Ahmad was heard talking to Ugrappa even as the media mikes were on the dais. Unaware that the mikes were catching what he was saying, he began talking about Shivakumar in a whisper.
Saleem Ahmad says it was eight percent before, it is now 12 percent. It is all DK's adjustment. This is a big scandal. Mulgund (Shivakumar's aide) has made Rs 50 crore to Rs 100 crore. If he can have this much, can you imagine how much money DK (Shivakumar) possesses, he is just a collection agent.
Ahmad continues talking as Ugrappa nods his head and smiles. Shivakumar stutters while talking in public. The media asked him whether he is drunk to talk like that. Compared to him, Siddaramaiah's body language and spoken style are precise, he says.
Ugrappa is heard saying that he is one of the people who made him (DK) the President of the party. Saleem Ahmad takes the names of Uppar, G. Shankar, Hanumantappa in the video. He also talks about Uppar constructing a house opposite the residence of S.M. Krishna, senior BJP leader and former Chief Minister.
The video went viral and the ruling BJP lost no time in attacking the state Congress on how the party's senior leaders are ridiculing and levelling allegations against its President Shivakumar.
Former Congress MP V S Ugrappa and KPCC media coordinator Salim discuss how Party president DK Shivakumar takes bribes and a close aid of his has made between 50-100 crores in collection. They are also discussing how he stutters while talking and as if he his drunk.— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) October 13, 2021
Shivakumar tries to salvage
Shivakumar said that it is an embarrassing moment for him and the party. He maintained that there is no connection between the allegations of the Congress leaders in the video and him. He said that the party is not divided and the disciplinary committee is going to take stringent action against them.
Commenting on being called a person who stutters and looking like he was in an inebriated state while talking to the media, Shivakumar explained that he came from a rural background. "I have developed a style, body language, individuality, character and I have my success also," he said.
Ugrappa later held a press conference and claimed that Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar are two eyes of Congress. "Throughout the conversation, I never said a word or made a comment against Shivakumar. Shivakumar is a pro-people leader and never indulged in percentage politics," he added.
"Saleem Ahmad wanted to explain that BJP is conspiring to make allegations against Congress leaders regarding IT raids, I cut him short," he maintained.
(With inputs from IANS)