Documents accessed by The Caravan reveal that the income-tax department is in possession of copies of diary entries in the handwriting of the prominent BJP leader and the former chief minister of Karnataka, BS Yeddyurappa, that note payoffs amounting to over Rs 1,800 crore to the BJP’s national leaders, its central committee, and judges and advocates. Yeddyurappa recorded these alleged payouts in a Karnataka state assembly legislator’s 2009 diary, in Kannada, in his own hand. Copies of these entries have been with the income-tax department since 2017. The copies of the diary pages note that Yeddyurappa paid the BJP Central Committee Rs 1,000 crore; that he paid the finance minister Arun Jaitley and the transport minister Nitin Gadkari Rs 150 crore each; that he gave the home minister Rajnath Singh Rs 100 crore; and that he paid the BJP stalwart LK Advani and the senior party leader Murli Manohar Joshi Rs 50 crore each. Besides this, the entry notes, Yeddyurappa paid Rs 10 crore for “Gadkari’s son’s marriage.” The diary entries also state that Yeddyurappa paid Rs 250 crore to “judges” and Rs 50 crore to “Advocates (fee paid for cases),” but does not mention any names.
The entries regarding payments to the BJP leaders, judges and advocates were written against rows dated 17 January 2009, while the entry regarding the BJP central committee was written against rows dated 18 January 2009. It is unclear whether the entries were made on these dates or written in the diary on a later date. Yeddyurappa served as the chief minister in Karnataka from May 2008 to July 2011. Each of the copies of the pages accessed by The Caravan bears his signature.
Information available with The Caravan shows that the income-tax department and the BJP government at the centre have been sitting on copies of these entries since August 2017. A senior income-tax official took copies of Yeddyurappa’s diary entries to the finance minister Arun Jaitley, along with an unsigned cover note. The senior IT official asked in the note whether further investigation by the Enforcement Directorate—India’s top law-enforcement agency for financial and economic crimes—was viable. But Jaitley, who is named in the entries as having allegedly received Rs 150 crore from Yeddyurappa, chose not to act on the income-tax official’s note. Jaitley was incharge of the Karnataka BJP between 2004 and 2013, and oversaw the party’s state unit during the elections held in this period.