'Has Clearance from the Highest Level': Accused in TRS MLAs Poaching Case in Leaked Audio Clip

The main accused is heard saying that the move has clearance from "Number One" and "Number Two", which according to TRS, referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah, respectively.

Listen to this article:

New Delhi: A day after Telangana Police detained three persons for allegedly bribing Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) MLAs to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a purported audio clip of a telephonic conversation between the main accused, Ramachandra Bharati, alias Satish Sharma alias Swamiji, and one of the MLAs Pilot Rohith Reddy surfaced on Friday, October 28.

The main accused is heard saying once Reddy ropes in an adequate number of TRS MLAs, Santosh (reportedly B.L. Santosh, BJP national secretary) would come down to Hyderabad to finalise the “deal”. Santosh’s name is heard repeatedly throughout the conversation. Bharati is also heard saying the move has “clearance” from the “highest” levels, including from “Number One” and “Number Two”.

According to TRS, “Number One” and “Number Two” refer to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah, respectively. The audio clip, lasting nearly 14 minutes, was leaked by the TRS on Friday. The Wire has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of the audio clip.

The alleged poaching attempt by the BJP has raised the political temperature in the state, where BJP and TRS are caught in a pitched battle ahead of the November 3 bypoll in Munugode. According to Cyberabad Police, money, contracts and posts were offered to TRS MLAs Guvvala Balaraju (Atchampet assembly segment), B. Harshavardhan Reddy (Kollapur), Rega Kantarao (Pinapaka) and Pilot Rohith Reddy (Tandur). The TRS alleged that each MLA was offered up to Rs 100 crore, and the accused shared close ties with the national leadership of the BJP.

At one point in the alleged telephonic conversation, Bharati asks Reddy, “Can you share the names with Number Two?”

When Reddy seems reluctant to share the names of other MLAs who are ready to shift their allegiance, Bharati says, “It is our responsibility to take care of you. When you are under our scanner, you don’t have to worry, including from ED to the income tax. We have good experience in Bengal.”

Bharati is also heard saying that Santosh had gone to Ahmedabad with “Number Two” and the matter would be taken up after the “bulk is ready”. He also says that they are in need of “qualified leaders” while assuring that “all aspects” would be taken and not to worry.

At this point, another accused Nanda Kumar interrupts the conversation and proposes the idea of scheduling a meeting after October 25, citing the solar eclipse on October 25.

The TRS hit back sharply after the audio leak on Friday. “We will expose the BJP before the people. The downfall of BJP will start with the results of the Munugode Assembly bypoll,” said TRS leader and state energy minister G. Jagadish Reddy, according to The New Indian Express.

Meanwhile, an Anti-Corruption Bureau court in Hyderabad rejected the plea of police to send the three accused to judicial custody. Subsequently, the police approached the Telangana high court challenging the decision of the ACB court.

The accused have been, according to the police, identified as Ramachandra Bharati alias Satish Sharma, a priest from Faridabad in Haryana; Simhayaji, pontiff of Srimanatha Raja Peetham in Tirupati; and Nandakumar, owner of a restaurant, Deccan Pride in Hyderabad.

Meanwhile, BJP leader and Union minister G. Kishan Reddy rubbished the incident as a “scripted flop show” by the TRS to defame the BJP ahead of the Munugode bypoll. He said the entire episode was carried out under the direction of TRS supremo and chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao.

The Union minister has also sought an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or a sitting judge of the Supreme Court, into the whole episode. “If the TRS government has purity of mind, I request that the case be handed over to the CBI. I am asking whether the state government is ready for this? I am giving two options. Either you get it inquired by a Supreme Court sitting judge or hand it over to the CBI as this case is an interstate issue.”