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Yeddyurappa, Kumaraswamy to swear before god over graft issue

Saturday June 18, 2011 08:38:28 PM, IANS

Bangalore: Karnataka will witness a rare scene of Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and his predecessor H.D. Kumaraswamy swearing before god following the latter's claim that the chief minister tried to "buy" his silence over graft charges.

"The chief minister has fixed June 27 morning, around 10 a.m., to take oath before Lord Manjunatha of Dharmasthala that he has not made any attempt to buy Kumaraswamy's silence," Home Minister R. Ashoka told reporters Saturday.

Kumaraswamy, state president of Janata Dal-Secular, said in response that he "will be there on June 26 evening itself to take oath in the name of Lord Manjunatha and stick to my stand that Yeddyurappa tried to buy my silence through his emissary".

Dharmasthala, about 300 km from here on the west coast, is a famous Hindu pilgrim centre in the state. It is common for a section of believers in Karnataka to challenge people to swear before the presiding deity of Dharmasthala their innocence or stick to their charges or claims at the temple.

Yeddyurappa Saturday challenged Kumaraswamy to "stick to your stand by taking an oath in front of the Almighty Lord Manjunatha Swamy of Dharmasthala".

Yeddyurappa issued the challenge though a signed "open letter" published as advertisements in several dailies in Karnataka. It was issued by the state information department.

Yeddyurappa said Kumarswamy's claim that the chief minister tried to buy his silence was "absolutely baseless allegations".

He called Kumaraswamy "a coward" who "continues hit and run tactics of making serious allegations and running away from the scene."

"Let us prove our truthfulness in the divine presence of Lord Manjunatha Swamy of Dharmasthala," Yeddyurappa said.

Kumaraswamy accepted the challenge but said he expected Yeddyurappa "to come with the emissary through whom he tried to negotiate the deal."

The JD-S leader said Yeddyurappa had tried several times in the last four months though Lehar Singh, a Bharatiya Janata Party legislator and state party treasurer, "to buy my silence".

"I was offered any amount of money to build our party and was told that Yeddyurappa was willing to do whatever work I wanted in return for my silence on corruption indulged by him," Kumaraswamy said.

He claimed that sometime back Lehar Singh had called him around 10.30 p.m. to say that Yeddyurappa was waiting at his house and "wanted to know when I will come to meet him".

"I have telephone records of these conversations. It is not easy to make such allegations against a Chief Minister without records and proof," Kumaraswamy said.

Lehar Singh declined to react. "I am away in Kerala and I do not know what is being said. I can comment only on my return on Monday," he told IANS on phone.

At his press conference, Home Minister Ashoka said Kumaraswamy's claims were "absolutely baseless".

"It is blackmail tactic. We condemn it and firmly reject the claims," Ashoka said.

"BJP has not given GPA (general power of attorney) to anybody to discuss any issue on its behalf. There is no need for a deal also as we are all united and support Yeddyurappa," he said.

Kumaraswamy hit back at Ashoka, saying "I accept BJP has not given GPA to Lehar Singh. But it is Yeddyurappa who has given it."







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