The dust of political drama in Karnataka refuses to settle down. The previous Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) and Congress coalition government had collapsed in July following resignation of the elected MLA. This had paved the way for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form a government led by CM B S Yeddyurappa.
The BJP is now accusing the previous government led by H D Kumaraswamy to have illegally tapped the phones of various political leaders of the party; and now the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed an FIR under Section 72 (Penalty for breach of confidentiality and privacy) of the Information Technology Act and section 26 (unlawfully intercepting or disclosing messages) of the Indian Telegraph Act.
In the first week of August, a conversation between newly appointed Bengaluru Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao, with a certain Faraz, a person who claims to be close to senior Congress leaders, was made public. This was a conversation between the two before Rao’s appointment, who was heard lobbying for the post of Bengaluru police commissioner with Faraz. However, as per a report by Livemint, Rao was appointed as the commissioner by Yeddyurappa after replacing Alok Kumar who had taken over the position just a month ago then. As per the report, Rao’s appointment was the result of Yedyyurappa approving tens of transfers of the officers appointed by the previous government. When these transfers are widely being questioned and the appointment of the three deputy CMs is being criticised, Yeddyurappa and BJP could be trying to shift the focus onto the scandal of phone tapping.
Also Read: Drinking Water Crisis in Karnataka Persists, Forces Schools in Udupi to Stall Mid-Day Meal Scheme
The current government in the state is facing various political challenges. Formed after the defection of 17 MLAs from the previous coalition government, it is unstable at present with internal conflicts. Siddaramaiah, the former CM, speaking to the media in Mysuru on September 1, 2019, said, “Where is the government? Yediyurappa headed the single-member Cabinet for about 25 days. Now 17 of them have become ministers, but they have not begun their work. So, there has been no government for last one month.” One still has to wait and see what the current government is doing in the state.
Siddaramaiah has predicted, according to various media reports, that the current BJP government will collapse within three and a half years. Arshi Aggarwal has written in India Today, “For over 15 years now, the Karnataka voters have remained on the edge over whether the elected government will make it till the end of five-year term or not.”
Also Read: Acute Shortage of Teachers in K’taka Govt Schools
Phones Were or Weren’t Tapped?
The News Minute reported that the CBI has requested the minutes of the meetings held by the high-powered committee that approves requests for intercepting calls. The investigative agency which has filed the FIR on August 30, 2019, has asked for these records from August 1, 2018 till August 30, 2019. According to this report, “The FIR states that upon the instruction of the former Police Commissioner of Bengaluru (Alok Kumar), phones of politicians were tapped legally, but the interception details were downloaded and published unlawfully. The FIR also states that the CBI is probing illegal interceptions of phones of political leaders belonging to the BJP.”
So, the question is not whether the phones were tapped or not; the question that the CBI is interested in, how these confidential interceptions reached social media. However, it seems like the Yeddyurappa-led BJP government in the state is trying to use this incident to target the opposition.
Also Read: Karnataka Crisis: Is BJP Trying for ‘One Party Rule’?
The JD(S), on the other hand, has written a letter to Yeddyurappa questioning his decision to hand over the case to the CBI. The national general secretary of JD(S), Ramesh Babu, has demanded that a special investigation team (SIT) be set up to take over the case. News18 quoted him as saying, “The main accused in several phone tapping cases is the CBI itself. It has been tapping phones of several individuals across the country. How can the CM then hand over a phone tapping case to the CBI? All cases from January 2008 till date must be investigated by a SIT.”
Also Read: People’s Demands Amid Political Turmoil in Karnataka