The alleged suicide attempt by Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa's personal assistant NR Santosh Kumar took a political twist with the Congress alleging that he was being blackmailed over a secret video CD containing some ‘explosive’ material.
Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president DK Shivakumar demanded a high-level probe into the suicide attempt by Santosh, who is the grandnephew of Yediyurappa.
Speaking to reporters in Karwar, Shivakumar said: “I’ve heard that Santosh had a video and he had given it to a BJP MLC and a minister. The video is in the hands of the high command now which may have been the trigger for the attempted suicide. Only a high-level inquiry will reveal the truth. A probe by the state government will be of no use,” he said.
Shivakumar claimed he heard about the video, which is “personal” in nature, two or three months ago. “Some confidential matters are involved. The chief minister and others were blackmailed by that MLC and minister. This is what I was told by many people,’’ he added.
The BJP was quick to react. Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister KS Eshwarappa, challenged Shivakumar to name the BJP leaders, who allegedly harassed Santosh. "If he has proof, let him release the video and the names too. If not, he should accept that he has misled the people of this state," he said.
Revenue minister, R Ashoka rubbished Shivakumar’s allegation. "He has been making statements by 'imagining' scenarios only to stay relevant in state politics," he quipped.
“A detailed probe will be carried out only if Shivakumar hands over the video clip or CD he claims is behind Santosh’s attempt to end his life,’’ Bommai told reporters.
Santosh is recuperating in hospital and an FIR has been registered at Sadashivanagar police station against him. “Police are still figuring out why he attempted suicide,’’ he added.
However, Shivakumar’s salvo came after a Kannada News channel aired an interview with Santosh's wife Jhanavi, who claimed that her husband was severely upset with the "ongoing political developments" in the state. She, however, did not reveal what the developments were.
The talk in the corridors of power is that Santosh had fallen out of Chief Minister’s coterie of advisors, who allegedly wanted him to resign from his post as Yediyurappa’s personal assistant.
However, this theory was rubbished by BJP state Vice President and Yediyurappa's son BY Vijayendra.
"I do not wish to respond to speculation. He is recovering, which is good news. I have seen in the media that his resignation was sought. There is no need for such a discussion. It is the prerogative of the Chief Minister to decide who should be appointed in which post," he said.
Santosh’s suicide attempt came after Yediyurappa fired a senior journalist MB Maramkal, his former political advisor. In quick succession Yediyurappa's Media Advisor, Mahadev Prakash too, resigned last week.
Maramkal and Santosh had played pivotal roles in negotiating terms with the 17 Congress and JD(S) legislators, who had defected to the BJP in 2019.
Santosh has been Yediyurappa’s shadow for many years and had served as his personal secretary as well and is not new to controversy.
In 2017, Santosh was arrested on charges of kidnapping Vinay NS, the former private assistant of rural development and panchayat raj minister KS Eshwarappa. He also faced charges of dowry harassment and attempt to murder.
There are also reports of Santosh having used some “personal issues” as tools for arm-twisting Yediyurappa into giving him an influential position in his government. But they claimed Yediyurappa’s family members had ensured he was kept away from the CM and he again fell out with them as they got to know he allegedly identified with the anti-Yediyurappa camp.
He was reportedly asked to put in his papers by Yediyurappa’s family to make way for partymen.