Questions Raised by The Caravan’s ‘Yeddy Diaries’ Exposé
On Friday, 22 March, The Caravan reported that the income tax department has copies of diary entries by Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa, which detail huge payments to the BJP and its national leaders, and receipts mentioning nearly Rs 2,700 crore received by Yeddyurappa from local BJP politicians.
An article by Aathira Konikkara and Nileena MS claims that Yeddyurappa:
- allegedly paid around Rs 1,500 crore to the BJP Central Committee as well as senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari and Murli Manohar Joshi, to help him become chief minister in 2008;
- allegedly paid Rs 10 crore towards Nitin Gadkari’s son’s marriage;
- allegedly got Gali Janardhan Reddy to pay Rs 150 crore to eight Independent MLAs and MLAs from other parties to ensure their support for Yeddyurappa’s government in 2008;
- also allegedly paid Rs 250 crore to unspecified judges.
The documents were reportedly retrieved by the income tax department during a raid on Congress leader DK Shivakumar’s residence in 2017. The department reportedly prepared a note on these entries (with additional comments of their own) and forwarded it to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, asking for a legal opinion on whether to investigate further.
Here are the questions this information raises:
Questions to Ask on Basis of CBDT Response to The Caravan’s Article
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (under which the income tax department falls) has released an official statement in which it refutes The Caravan’s report. However, the response actually raises more questions than answers.
On what basis has BS Yeddyurappa (in a statement issued after the Congress press conference on the article) claimed that the income tax department has already probed the documents and found them to be false, when the CBDT’s statement says they could not establish whether the documents were authentic or not (since the originals weren’t available)?
In its official statement, why hasn’t the CBDT denied any of the allegations in the article about the contents of the note allegedly sent along with the entries to Arun Jaitley? Does this mean those aspects of the article are true?
Does the income tax department deny that one of their officials wrote in their own note to Jaitley that the department “protected the interests of the BJP leaders. Since this matter is connected to the BJP leaders of Karnataka and also in Delhi, no further investigation has been done till date”?
If not, will an investigation be conducted into the officials who made this decision?
Why didn’t the CBDT respond to The Caravan’s queries about the diary entries before the publication of the article?
Questions to Ask if Authenticity of Entries is Unclear
If the income tax department does not believe there is a chance that these entries are real, why did it send a note on the issue to Arun Jaitley – in which it reportedly confirmed that the signature and handwriting on each page is Yeddyurappa’s?
Has the income tax department ruled out the possibility that the diary entries were fabricated by DK Shivakumar? If the documents “prima-facie appear to be of a doubtful nature” as mentioned in the CBDT statement, why did they not investigate his involvement further to see if this amounted to offences against a public servant?
Why did the income tax department forward the entries and a note to Jaitley despite him being named as an alleged recipient of Rs 150 crores in them? Why not forward this to the prime minister (who has not been named as a recipient of any money) given the clear conflict of interest?
Do Yeddyurappa’s accounts or the accounts of the Karnataka BJP in 2008-09 show any inflows to the tune of Rs 2,690 crore?
Do the accounts of the Prerana Trust (run by Yeddyurappa’s family) refute the allegation that it paid Rs 500 crore to Yeddyurappa’s campaign as is allegedly noted in the entries?
Does Yeddyurappa deny receiving any money from the persons listed in the entries such as former state Cabinet ministers Basavraj Bommai, Aravind Limbavali and Murugesh Nirani and BJP MLAs J Krishna Palemar, CC Patil and Laxman Savadi?
Does Janardhan Reddy deny making payments to the eight MLAs listed in the entries? Is there any information from the other investigations against him that could corroborate the claim he paid Rs 150 crore to them to ensure support for Yeddyurappa’s government?
Why did Arun Jaitley not take any action on the basis of the note filed by the income tax department? At the very least, shouldn’t he have ordered an investigation of possible forgery and fraud?
If the entries are false, why didn’t Yeddyurappa, the BJP leaders or the eight MLAs respond to The Caravan’s queries regarding the payments prior to publication of the article? Are the BJP leaders to whom the payments were allegedly made ready to go on oath to deny that they received any such payments?
Questions to Ask If the Entries Are Not Fake
Are these diary entries related to the video of a conversation between Yeddyurappa and Union Minister Ananth Kumar in 2017 in which they discuss corruption allegations against then-CM Siddaramaiah and payments allegedly made by Yeddyurappa to national BJP leaders?
Bonus Question: What is the status of the FIR filed by the Anti-Corruption Bureau against Yeddyurappa and Kumar in 2017 after their voices were verified?
When were these diary entries made?
The entries have been made in a Karnataka Assembly legislator’s 2009 diary, and payments have been written against rows dated 17 January 2009 and 18 January 2009 – but the income tax department note claims they were written when Yeddyurappa broke away from the BJP to revive his old KJP after 2011. Could this mean the entries are motivated?
Which judges were the payments worth Rs 250 crores made to? Were these payments made in relation to any specific cases? Has this information been passed on to the Chief Justice of India to decide whether or not to look into an investigation against judicial bribery?
Is there a money trail to show whether any payments of this magnitude were made by Yeddyurappa around 2008-2009?
Why would Yeddyurappa need to pay Rs 1,000 crore to the BJP’s central committee? If it was actually made, how was this payment made?
If the payments were actually made to the individual BJP leaders, how were these payments made?
Will the Centre forward this information to the Lokpal for investigation? If there is a lack of clarity on the authenticity of the entries, shouldn’t there be an investigation to see if there is any corroborating evidence?