An audio clip, allegedly of the BJP’s Karnataka chief talking of a leadership change in the state, has gone viral alongside speculation of Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa being replaced by the end of this month.
Nalinkumar Kateel called it a fake clip and insisted the voice was not his. Urging Mr Yediyurappa to order an investigation, the Karnataka BJP chief added that there was no question of any change in leadership.
According to the Indian Express newspaper, the 47-second audio clip has a voice resembling that of Mr Kateel telling someone: “There is going to be a definite change in leadership, a completely new team will be in place.” The voice, speaking in a local dialect, also says the decision on a new Chief Minister will be taken by the Delhi leadership.
Mr Kateel said today: “I have already clarified that this audio is not mine. I am writing a letter to the Chief Minister asking for a free and fair enquiry, let the truth come out. Lots of such incidents have been reported in the past. Let it be an investigation into this, truth will prevail.”
He went on to say there was “no discussion at all” on any leadership change. “Yediyurappa is our undisputed leader as he is soul of the BJP. He is the person who brought BJP to such level from scratch,” Mr Kateel said.
On Saturday, Mr Yediyurappa refuted speculation raised by his air dash to Delhi on a special plane to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders. He has been facing open criticism and attacks from a section of BJP MLAs for months, and the rebellion has showed no signs of fading.
State Tourism Minister CP Yogeeshwara had said recently that instead of the Chief Minister, his son has been ruling and controlling the ministries of Karnataka.
Reports said in his meeting with PM Modi on Friday, the 78-year-old offered to quit, citing his poor health, and the party was exploring possible replacements by July 26, when the BJP government in Karnataka completes two years.
However, Mr Yediyurappa told reporters: “There is no truth in it. Not at all. Not at all. Not at all.”
As the audio clip emerged, the Congress said the state government was unstable and it was affecting the administration. “BJP is unstable in the state. Their MLAs and ministers are openly speaking of ousting the CM. I do not think this has been a situation in any state, it is been going on for the past 7-8 months,” said Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge.