With a Karnataka minister's alleged remarks that the 'government is not functioning, we are somehow managing' causing embarrassment to his administration, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Tuesday tried to do damage control by stating that the comments were made in a 'different context'.
As the remarks made by Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister J C Madhuswamy have drawn criticism from some ministers, with one of them even advising him to quit the ministry for it, the chief minister said he will talk to all cabinet colleagues concerned.
"He (Madhuswamy) had said in a different context. I will talk to him. The context was different, so there is no need to take it in a wrong sense. He had spoken specifically with respect to some cooperative related issue. Things are fine, there is no problem," Bommai told reporters in Bengaluru.
When told that several of his cabinet colleagues are upset and are criticising Madhuswamy, he said, "I will talk to all of them....."
Meanwhile, speaking for the first time on the controversy, Madhuswamy said, he has spoken to the chief minister and has given his clarification.
"The CM is convinced...if he seeks resignation, I will give. If it does good to the CM and the government, I won't think about it even for two minutes," he said in response to a question.
Noting that he is not sure about the person involved and the timing of the conversation, but the voice in the leaked audio is his, Madhuswamy said, "When someone spoke to me about farmers, maybe out of provocation, I might have said certain things, there is no need to give so much importance to it...I might have accidentally said it. I have great respect for the government and ministers."
Further, he said he has not spoken anything derogatory against Cooperation Minister S T Somashekar and added, "I don't know why he has reacted so strongly to it."
Not wanting to comment regarding any conspiracy against him for the conversation and its leak and the growing opposition against him in the party, Madhuswamy said he has sought legal opinion about filing a case on audio leak, as a personal conversation two persons has been leaked, and that he will go by the advice of his advocates.
A purported phone conversation between Madhuswamy and Bhaskar, a Channapatna-based social worker, had gone viral on Saturday.
"We are not running a government here, we are just managing, pulling through for the next 7-8 months," Madhuswamy can be heard telling Bhaskar in response to his complaints against a cooperative bank, with respect to some farmers' issues.
In the purported phone conversation, while responding to the social worker's complaint, the minister can be heard even expressing 'helplessness' over Cooperation Minister S T Somashekar's 'inaction'.
"I know these issues. I've brought this to the notice of Somashekhar. He is not taking action. What to do?" Madhuswamy can be heard saying.
Somashekar has hit out at Madhuswamy over his comments, saying, "He (Madhuswamy) feels that he is the only intelligent person, he has to remove it from his head first."
Horticulture Minister Munirathna has even said Madhuswamy should resign from the Ministry immediately, before making such a statement.
"He (Madhuswamy) is part of the government and is participating in every matter at the cabinet, so he also has a share in it...being in a responsible position and making such statements is not right, it is not befitting to his seniority," he said.
The opposition Congress has targeted the Basavaraj Bommai-led government following the audio leak, calling it 'inactive'.