The cash-for-vote scam in Telangana took a dramatic turn on Sunday with the release of an audio tape of a purported telephonic conversation between Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and nominated Telangana legislator Elvis Stephenson.
KCR’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi has accused Mr Naidu of playing a role in the alleged attempt by a lawmaker of his party last week to bribe a nominated MLA Elvis Stephenson.
A TV channel in Telangana has aired an audio recording of what it alleges is a conversation between Mr. Naidu and Mr. Stephenson. TNews is at least partly owned by the family of KCR.
Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party says it’s a conspiracy and that tapes have been doctored. Mr Naidu met Governor ESL Narasimhan, before the audio tapes became public, and alleged that the TRS government of Telangana is illegally tapping his phones and those of his ministers.
Since the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh last year to form Telangana, the two states share a Governor and a capital in Hyderabad. Telangana’s K Chandrasekhar Rao too met Governor Narasimhan. Both chief ministers and the Governor will visit Delhi this week.
At least three cases have been filed by TDP leaders against KCR in Krishna district alone; cases have also been filed also in Visakhapatnam, Suryapet and Nalgonda.
Last week, TDP legislator Revanth Reddy was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) after he was allegedly caught red-handed offering bribe to Mr Stephenson to influence his vote in the Telangana legislative council elections.
The ruling TRS alleges that Revanth Reddy had the full backing of party president Chandrababu Naidu, whose TDP is in the opposition in Telangana. Telangana’s Home Minister Nayani Narasimha Reddy has demanded that Chandrababu Naidu be “made accused number one” in the case.
In audio and video tapes released by the ACB, Revanth Reddy purportedly makes repeated references to his “boss”. Mr Reddy allegedly also claims in the recordings that he was authorised to strike the bribe deal by “Babu Garu,” which the TRS alleges is a reference to Mr Naidu.