In what could be a big blow to the Rahul Gandhi-led Congress, party legislator Shivaram Hebbar on Monday in a Facebook post said that the audio clip released by his party accusing the BJP of horse trading is 'fake'.
Earlier, on Saturday the Congress cited several audio clips, alleging that the BJP reached out to Hebbar's wife for cross-voting ahead of the floor test at the Karnataka Vidhan Soudha on Saturday.
The BJP leaders were trying to 'poach' Congress MLAs by offering offering 'blandishments' in order to help the day-old Yeddyurappa government survive in Karnataka, the Congress said.
The floor test, which was ordered by the Supreme Court to check the majority of the Yeddyurappa-led government in the Karnataka assembly, eventually did not happen. The former chief minister announced his resignation at the Vidhan Soudha minutes before the floor test.
Hebbar's statement came ahead of Janata Dal-Secular leader HD Kumaraswamy's meeting with Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Monday.
The Congress lawmaker raised question over the authenticity of the audio clip, stating that his wife did not receive any call from the Bharatiya Janata Party on the day of the floor test.
"This is not my wife’s voice and she has not received any such calls. The audio tape is fake. I condemn it," Hebbar wrote in a Facebook post.
One of the audio clips, released by the Congress reportedly recorded a conversation between Hebbar’s wife and BJP leaders, who offered them bribe and ministerial post to vote for BJP.
Yeddyurappa’s son BY Vijayendra and his close associate B J Puttuswamy were also heard in the audio tape speaking purportedly to Hebbar’s wife. Puttuswamy was also heard assuring that cases against the wife and the son, who are facing a trial in a mining scam, would be cleared if they vote for the BJP instead of the Congress.
Meanwhile, Congress MLC Ugrappa, who released the coversation on Saturday, told reporters, "We never claimed the voice of the woman in tape was of Congress MLA Hebbar's wife". The BJP leaders on the other end of the line "believed the fake woman to be Hebbar's wife," Ugrappa added.
"Facebook post of Congress MLA Shivram Hebbar from Yellapur, in which he denies his wife ever getting a call from BJP, calls it a fake audio clip... Shame on Congress for brazenly lying, spreading mis-information and media channels for lapping it up. It is all over regional paper," BJP’s national information and technology cell head Amit Malviya tweeted hour after Hebbar's statement surfaced on the internet.
Facebook post of Congress MLA Shivram Hebbar from Yellapur, in which he denies his wife ever getting a call from BJP, calls it a fake audio clip... Shame on Congress for brazenly lying, spreading mis-information and media channels for lapping it up. It is all over regional paper. pic.twitter.com/ZoIUqhgXWi— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) May 20, 2018
Yeddyurappa's resignation on Saturday, paved that path for the Congress-JD-S combine to form a new government in Karnataka.
JD-S leader HD Kumaraswamy, who has the backing of the Congress will take oath as the Karnataka chief minister on Wednesday.
The newly formed alliance claimed support of 117 MLAs in the 224-member House with an effective strength of 221. The BJP fell eight seats short from the majority mark of 112.