In a development that could leave the Congress red-faced in Karnataka, its MLA Shivaram Hebbar on Monday dismissed as 'fake' an audio clip released by the party to allege that the Bharatiya Janata Party offered money and ministerial berth to him for cross-voting during the floor test in the assembly.
The Congress had released three audio tapes in run up to the floor test, claiming that the BJP leaders were trying to 'poach' on the party MLAs by offering 'blandishments' so that the B S Yeddyurappa government is saved.
One of the audio tapes released by the party allegedly had conversation between Hebbar's wife and BJP leaders, who allegedly offered money and ministerial post to woo him to vote for the BJP.
In the audio tape in question, Yeddyurappa's son B Y Vijayendra and his close associate B J Puttuswamy are heard speaking purportedly to Hebbar's wife, offering money and ministerial position to her husband if he cross-voted in favour of the BJP during the floor test.
However, in a Facebook post in Kanadda, Hebbar questioned the authenticity of the audio clip, saying his wife did not receive any such call.
'This is not my wife's voice and she has not received any such calls. The audio tape is fake. I condemn it,' he wrote.
Reacting to Hebbar, State Congress spokesman V S Ugrappa on Monday demanded that Vijayendra and Puttuswamy undergo forensic voice test for their alleged involvement.
"The audio clip released to the media is genuine, not fake. Yes, our legislator is correct when he says, it is not his wife's voice, but the voices of Vijayendra and Puttuswamy are genuine. If these leaders have guts, they should undergo forensic voice test," he told reporters in Bengaluru.
The Karnataka polls threw up a hung assembly, with the BJP emerging as the single largest party, but eight short of majority.
Governor Vajubhai Vala invited the BJP to form the government and Yeddyurappa was sworn in as chief minister.
As the floor test approached, the Congress alleged that the BJP was indulging in horsetrading and released the audio tapes to back their charges.
Vijayendra and Puttuswamy are also heard allegedly offering Rs 15 crore for cross-voting but without a ministerial berth, or Rs 5 crore with a cabinet berth. Puttuswamy is also heard allegedly saying that cases against the wife and the son, who are facing a trial in a mining scam, would be cleared.
Realising that he did not have the numbers, Yeddyurappa had on May 19 announced his decision to quit as chief minister without facing the floor test in an anti-climax to the political drama following the hung verdict in the assembly polls.
Union minister and BJP's Karnataka election in-charge Prakash Javadekar had rubbished the audio tapes as 'fake.'
Javadekar also had accused the Congress for releasing 'fake' audio clips to prevent the BJP from forming government.