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HomeThePrint InterviewSting op a conspiracy, attempt to de-stabilise BJP govt, says Yediyurappa’s son...

Sting op a conspiracy, attempt to de-stabilise BJP govt, says Yediyurappa’s son Vijayendra

In exclusive interview, Vijayendra told ThePrint that his family was being blackmailed, insisted there was no truth to corruption charges & said he was being targeted as he is the CM’s son.

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Bengaluru: B.Y. Vijayendra, the son of Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, has been embroiled in a controversy over allegations that he took bribes from a contractor looking to bag a construction project worth Rs 666 crore in Bengaluru.

The allegations were aired in a ‘sting operation’ in September by a Kannada news channel, Power TV, and have been latched onto by the opposition Congress to target Yediyurappa and the BJP government in the state. The channel has since faced raids, an FIR and had been off air for nearly 48 hours.

Now, for the first time since the row broke, Vijayendra, who is also the Karnataka state BJP vice-president, has decided to break his silence.

In an exclusive interview with ThePrint over phone, Vijayendra said the alleged sting was a “classic case of political conspiracy and vendetta”.

“This is clearly an attempt to try and malign my father’s name and destabilise his government,” Vijayendra said. “My father is being blamed for issues he is not
even involved in. There is no iota of truth in these allegations. We will not fall prey to blackmailers.”

He added that it was part of a “larger conspiracy” against his father. “This is part of a bigger conspiracy. We know that there are leaders who want to see my father lose power,” he said. “They have used all sorts of malpractices to show my father and me in a bad light.”

The Karnataka BJP vice-president also referred to the 2011 case, when the then Lokayukta Santosh Hegde indicted Yediyurappa in his report on illegal mining in the state, saying the chief minister was among those responsible for the loss of Rs16,085 crore to the exchequer between 2006 and 2010.

Yeddyurappa had been jailed in the case, was forced to quit as chief minister and had even floated his own party, the Karnataka Janata Paksha, in 2012 before returning to the BJP in 2013.

“The 2011 Lokayukta case has caused enough hurt to Yediyurappaji and our family. By the time we could prove the transactions were legal in the case, my father was forced to step down,” Vijayendra said. “This time we will fight it out.”

He also contested the Congress charges that he was the “de-facto” CM. “I do understand the importance of the position my father holds,” he said. “I intend to grow in the party and I have got the perfect opportunity. I don’t plan to throw it away. But I am targeted because I am the CM’s son.”

Also read: BJP MLA says Yediyurappa on way out as Karnataka CM, party denies claim, vows action

The television sting

Power TV aired a two-part episode of the ‘sting operation’ on 5 and 17 September, allegedly exposing the illegal involvement of Vijayendra and other family members of the chief minister in the awarding of Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) contracts.

A BJP functionary, however, obtained a temporary injunction prohibiting the publishing or airing the “allegations against the Chief Minister of Karnataka, his family members and the BJP on the basis of false, fabricated and concocted stories”.

During the assembly session last month, the Congress referred to the sting operation to allege that Vijayendra took bribes from a BDA contractor.

Power TV was also taken off air for 48 hours from 29 September before it earned a legal reprieve. Raids have been conducted against the channel after a real estate firm, Ramalingam Construction, had on 24 September filed a police complaint alleging that the channel’s managing director, Rakesh Shetty, had indulged in forgery, impersonation, extortion and criminal conspiracy.

The channel had cited Ramalingam Construction as one of its sources for the information based on which the sting operation was planned.

Vijayendra told ThePrint that he had met the channel’s MD Rakesh Shetty but not as part of any official work.

“The channel’s managing director Rakesh Shetty made tall claims of having highly placed connections, especially with the BJP top brass like Amit Shah. I chose to ignore his calls. He was persistent,” Vijayendra said. “One day he called me saying he wanted to give me prasad from Tirupati. Who would refuse an offering from God? So I asked him to meet me.”

In the sting, Shetty claimed to have spoken to a contractor who was allegedly being “extorted” by an acquaintance of Vijayendra using the CM’s name.

“I didn’t verify the facts. That was my mistake. I called and reprimanded the person (alleged acquaintance) for misusing the CM’s name and asked him to settle
the issue,” Vijayendra said. “I later realised that Shetty had recorded this conversation and used it as if it was a deal being struck for a bribe.

“It was when he (Shetty) started playing promos against my father, me and was dragging PM Modi’s name into the controversy, I realised what he had done,” he added. “He ran a promo saying ‘Modi speaks against corruption, see what is happening in Yediyurappa’s Karnataka’.

“I have filed a defamation case of Rs 10 crore against the channel. Let them prove in court as to how they got their evidence,” Vijayendra added.

‘Tried to trap my nephew too’

Power TV had claimed it had details of the “bribes” worth crores involving Yeddyurappa’s grandson Shashidhar Maradi, who is Vijayendra’s nephew.

The documents purportedly showed a money trail from seven Kolkata-based companies for contracts in the BDA project.

“They even tried to trap Shashidhar, my relative. Though there has been a transaction through a bank, it has nothing to do with this issue.” Vijayendra said.

“The contractor and Shashidhar have been in business for a long time. Shetty took one of the ‘official’ transactions and claimed there were kickbacks,” he added. “He used data to suit his so-called sting.”

Maradi also denied the allegations.

“It is unfortunate that a motivated charge is being made to connect my work to a contractor and a desperate attempt is being made to somehow portray as though I have received funds to my individual and company’s bank accounts,” he told ThePrint.

“There is not even an iota of truth in this charge and I want to reiterate that neither I, nor the companies I am affiliated with, have any transactional relationship with any companies or individuals working with the government.”

Also read: Not deputy CM, now not even health minister — fading power of Karnataka BJP ‘star’ Sriramulu


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