A war of words broke out between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the opposition Congress in Karnataka over the recovery of Rs 10.5 lakh unaccounted cash from a Public Works Department engineer at Vidhana Soudha on Thursday evening.
While the Congress alleged that the Vidhana Soudha has become a shopping mall and the BJP stood for 'Broker Janata Party', Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai reminded the opposition how Rs 25 lakh cash was allegedly seized from the staff of Congress MLA from Chamarajanagar C Puttarangashetty four years ago.
The security personnel at Vidhana Soudha held the PWD engineer Jagadish on Thursday with the cash.
After he failed to give any satisfactory reply, the security personnel handed over the cash to the Cubbon Park police.
The policemen waited for some time allowing the engineer to furnish details but after he failed, he was arrested on Thursday night.
The recovery of cash led to a political storm in the poll-bound Karnataka with the opposition and the ruling parties trading charges against each other.
Former Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah charged that the engineer might have come to pay it to the Chief Minister or the PWD Minister C C Patil.
"Bribery is going on in the Vidhana Soudha. It is happening right under the nose of chief minister. Whom did he come to pay? He might have come to pay the CM or the PWD Minister," Siddaramaiah said.
The Congress state president D K Shivakumar said the incident proved once again that nothing moves in the Vidhana Soudha without paying a bribe.
"No bills are getting cleared without paying 40 per cent or 50 per cent bribe. They (ruling BJP) ask for evidence when we accuse them of collecting 40 per cent commission. Isn't this incident a proof?" Shivakumar said.
Congress MLA and party national president Mallikarjun Kharge's son Priyank Kharge held a press conference alleging that the BJP does not mean Bharatiya Janata Party anymore.
"It is not Bharatiya Janata Party anymore. The BJP today has become Brokers' Janata Party. This Broker Janata Party has turned the pious Vidhana Soudha into 'Vyapara Soudha' (Business Palace). It has become world's biggest shopping mall," Kharge alleged.
In this shopping mall people can purchase the jobs of police sub-inspectors, assistant engineer and assistant professors.
"All the government jobs are on sale here. Our top officials, ministers and the MLAs are the best salesmen here. They are all members of the Broker Janata Party," Kharge charged.
Hitting back, Bommai said the staff of a Congress MLA Puttarangashetty too was caught with cash.
"I would like to ask Siddaramaiah about Rs 25 lakh found from the office of Putarangashetty. What action did you take? Did you arrest the man who brought it or whom it was paid to or did you sack the minister? You are the one who had shut the Lokayukta office," the chief minister alleged.
He said a probe has been ordered and the truth would come out soon.
Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said investigations were underway to find out whose cash was it, where was he taking it or why was he having such a huge amount.
"The investigations are on. At this juncture, I will not say anything," Jnanendra said.
The PWD Minister C C Patil said the Congress' charges that the money was meant for him were far from truth.
"If he (engineer with cash) had to pay me then where was the need to come to the Vidhana Soudha. He could have given me elsewhere. Police will take action against him," Patil told reporters in Bengaluru.