Justice Minister Madhuswamy’s audio clip on ‘government is not working’ sparks row, horticulture minister asks him to resign

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Controversy erupted in Karnataka following the emergence of an audio recording linked to Justice Minister JC Madhuswamy, who allegedly said the state government was not working and the BJP was just running things until the 2023 Assembly elections.

The alleged conversation between Madhuswamy and a social worker, Bhaskar of Channapatna, also indicates differences between senior ministers in handling government affairs. The audio clip was posted on social media by the Congress party’s Karnataka unit.

Cooperation Minister ST Somashekhar, who is accused of not working in the interests of farmers during the alleged conversation, told reporters in Mysuru on Monday that the justice minister was wrong to talk about his department.

“We can only take action if there is evidence of wrongdoing. We cannot act before an investigation. The government is not crawling as the minister claims. Maybe his own department is drifting off course,” Somashekhar said.

“As a minister, he should not have made such comments. He should resign,” said horticulture minister Munirathna and close associate of Somashekhar.

In the alleged conversation, Bhaskar complains about officials of a cooperative bank demanding Rs 1,300 to renew loans worth Rs 50,000 taken by farmers across the state.

“I am aware of all these things, it has been brought to the attention of Mr. Somashekhar (the Co-operative Minister) that funds for interest payments are being gobbled up and further payments are being sought. He takes no action – what can be done? Madhuswamy is heard saying in the alleged clip.

“Even I was forced to pay the extra fees by bank officials and it’s not just the farmers. There is no functioning government, we are just managing things and pushing for eight months (when the 2023 national elections are due to take place),” the minister adds.

The Congress party flagged the conversation as an example of the incompetence of the BJP government in Karnataka.

“The negligence of government, the incompetence of ministers and the injustice done to farmers have been exposed by Minister Madhuswamy. The BJP government operates solely as a corruption management service. There is no better proof of the Bommai government’s incompetence and injustice to farmers,” the opposition party tweeted.

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