Telangana plans to nail Naidu in cash-for-vote scandal
With Telangana Home Minister N. Narasimha Reddy claiming that the government has all proof to nail Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu in the cash-for-vote scandal, all eyes are on the next move of the state's Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB). The ACB has sought the custody of Telengana's Telugu Desam Party (TDP) lrgislator A. Revanth Reddy, who was arrested on Sunday.
Revanth Reddy was nabbed while offering Rs.50 lakh to a nominated member of the assembly as part of the Rs.5-crore deal to make him vote for TDP-BJP candidate in election to the Telangana legislative council (Upper House). The investigators are likely to interrogate him about the TDP chief's alleged role in the scandal. The ACB sleuths may question him about his "boss", whom he repeatedly mentioned during the talk with nominated MLA. The conversation was recorded on a spy camera.
The Telangana home minister has also claimed that Naidu also spoke to nominated MLA Elvis Stephenson over phone and that police have audio record of the alleged conversation. He also said he has have evidence that Naidu spoke to some MLAs of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). Narasimha Reddy described Revanth Reddy as a "small fry" and said there was a growing demand from public that Naidu should be made the main accused.
"In coming days, there will be dramatic developments," Narasimha Reddy told reporters in Warangal on Wednesday. Revanth Reddy, a member of the Telangana assembly and his two aides were arrested by the ACB after laying a trap at the residence of Stephenson, who represents the Anglo-Indian community in the Telangana assembly. The trap was laid on a complaint by the nominated MLA.
The next day, a city court sent Revanth and two others to judicial custody for 14 days. TRS leaders, including Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao's daughter K. Kavitha, a member of parliament, have demanded that Naidu should be made an accused in the case.
Telangana's Irrigation Minister Harish Rao, who is Chandrasekhar Rao's nephew, has described Naidu as the mastermind behind the bid to buy votes for the TDP-BJP combine in the council poll. Information Technology Minister K. Tarakarama Rao, who is son of the chief minister, has said law will take its own course.
"If there is prima facie evidence, there is no reason why Naidu should not be included," said Tarakarama Rao. He said the ACB will go deep into the case to find out who is the mastermind. The trap for Revanth Reddy was laid after TRS leaders reportedly got a wind of the attempts being made by Naidu to woo some disgruntled TRS MLAs to vote for the TDP-BJP candidate.
Naidu, who last week was elected the TDP's national president, wanted to take revenge on the TRS for encouraging defections in the TDP in Telangana. Five TDP lawmakers crossed over to the TRS during last one year.
It was after the TRS learnt about Naidu's attempt to woo some of its MLAs that Chandrasekhar Rao went to the extent of threatening dissolution of assembly if the TRS failed to win all its five seats to the council. TRS sources said this was a threat to some MLAs who were in touch with TDP leaders.
The YSR Congress Party, the main opposition party in Andhra Pradesh, has demanded that Naidu be made an accused in the case. YSR Congress president Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy even met E.S.L. Narasimhan, who is governor of both the states, to make the demand.
The Congress party in both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh has demanded a thorough probe into Naidu's role. The TDP has hit back at the YSR Congress, saying it entered into a conspiracy with the TRS to target the party.