With only 36 hours remaining for Karnataka to go to polls in an absolutely critical Assembly election, Republic TV has accessed pictures, messages, confessions and more relating to an attempted dirty cash transaction that implicates a top minister in the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in the state.
Republic TV's investigations editor Prema Sridevi has uncovered details of a cash courier that was intercepted by the Income Tax department on May 1 and the direct Congress-link to the web of the Rs 1,22,74,000 in dirty cash that was seized.
After receiving a tip-off, the I-T Department had found the large stockpile of unaccounted currency in various denominations hidden in concealed cavities of the XUV 500 car that was raided.
Upon questioning, the courier, named Chandrashekhar, revealed that he was transporting the cash to a Congress candidate, allegedly under the instructions of a person called A.P Guru Prasad. Guru Prasad, it turned out, is the personal assistant (PA) of top Karnataka minister R.V Deshpande.
A diary recovered from the PA named the Congress party's Sirsi candidate Bheemanna Naik as the alleged intended beneficiary.
On being questioned, the PA admitted to the I-T department that Bheemanna Naik had allegedly called him after the candidate list was put out and asked him to arrange Rs 1 crore. Guru Prasad added that the cash was meant for the Congress' poll expenditure.
Guru Prasad, the PA, then collected the cash from businessmen, allegedly on the directions of the minister, RV Deshpande, who had allegedly told his PA to hand over the cash to people deputed by the candidate, Bheemanna Naik.
The PA's WhatsApp conversations also revealed the politician-businessman link, exposing that a builder named Rama Reddy had allegedly directed his employee Naveen to deliver Rs 25 lakh to him.
The questions that arise:
The findings pose a number of critical questions before the Congress' top leadership which is already attempting to douse the fire of the massive 10,000 voter ID card recovery scandal that erupted on Tuesday night and grew bigger on Wednesday, eventually leading to the Congress MLA in the constituency in question, i.e. Rajarajeshwari Nagar, to be named as accused in two FIRs.
Was the dirty cash funneled into the Congress' campaign by using conduits and touts? Were the Congress' cash trails all a means to rig the votes in Karnataka, as shown in Republic TV's #BribeForVotes investigation? Did Rahul Gandhi and Siddaramaiah's minister take dirty cash from businessmen and import it into the Congress' campaign? And in lieu of what was the cash collected?