Cash-for-votes: Naidu accused or witness? 5 reasons why Telangana govt is delaying the case
Telangana government, which is hell-bent on proving a point, wants to take the cash-for-votes case to its end. Here are 5 reasons why it's biding time.
Is N Chandrababu Naidu an accused person or a witness in the cash-for-votes case in which a couple of legislators of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Telangana were arrested and released on bail?
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of Telangana is apparently caught in a Catch-22 situation on whether or not to name Naidu as an accused or a witness. However, much to the chagrin and also embarrassment of Naidu and TDP, his name was mentioned on 22 occasions in the charge-sheet filed in the ACB special court. The court has yet to take cognisance of the charge-sheet.
The Telangana government, which is hell-bent on proving a point, wants to take the case to its politically logical end. Why is it biding time? Why is it using this case on-and-off to taunt TDP?
The reasons for these questions are not too unfamiliar.
1. Even though there are political scores for TRS to settle with TDP, the timing isn’t conducive.
2. Even if it wants to take on Chandrababu Naidu head-on, what is the great benefit it would derive at this point of time is one question for which the TRS helmsman has to find an answer himself.
3. If the trial is prolonged, it gives that much elbow space for TRS to tarnish the image of TDP and lure more TDP legislators on to its side. As TRS expects servitude from leaders of all other parties, it is but natural for the ruling party to arm-twist all those who are defiant.
4. TRS is unable to crack the code at the BJP headquarters or what’s there in the mind of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Whether any aggressive move would be to the liking of BJP and the Prime Minister or would it prove to be counter-productive is the biggest dilemma for TRS.
5. The Telangana government may be weighing all the options and working on a reverse-engineering method to check if the Andhra Pradesh government could corner it in the telephone tapping case.
The dramatic arrest of Kodangal MLA Revanth Reddy and his “reported” tongue-in-cheek replies to the questioning by the ACB threw several names in the investigation as leads for pursuing the probe.
For those who came in late, the Telangana ACB trapped Revanth Reddy in a video-shoot when the legislator was allegedly offering a sum of Rs 50 lakh as part of an advance of a Rs 5-crore deal with Anglo-Indian MLA nominated to the Telangana Assembly Elvis Stevenson.
The “leak” of the recorded telephone conversations with Stevenson and Naidu (reports suggest that the forensic laboratory has confirmed that it was the voice of Chandrababu Naidu) have come as a body blow to the TDP, which had to change its side of the story multiple times.
The ACB reportedly stated in the charge-sheet that Revanth Reddy had met Stevenson only after he obtained a “go-ahead” from Naidu and the payment of “advance” was executed by Reddy only after Naidu had “reportedly” doled out a slew of assurances, apart from “honouring the commitments” given by his men, including a nomination as an MLA in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly.
The ACB is said to have specified how the TDP leaders were trying to shield the accused in the case, including Jerusalem Mathaiah and Jimmy Babu, in the charge-sheet. It reportedly submitted an SMS Mathaiah had sent out to them that the TDP leaders had asked him to keep his mobile phone switched off.
The anti graft body summoned DK Srinivas, son of former TTD chairperson and MP DK Audikesavulu Naidu, and a couple of his aides for questioning. Interestingly, Srinivas’ mother is TDP MLA from Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh.
The ACB had questioned several people in the case and issued notices to the driver of Chandrababu Naidu’s son Nara Lokesh. However, the notices could not be served on him personally.
The Andhra Pradesh government, which was heavily banking on a telephone tapping case it had registered and ordered its CID to investigate, is trying to use it as a tit-for-tat weapon to deal with the situation. Close on the heels of the Telangana ACB issuing notices to the driver of Lokesh, the Andhra Pradesh CID summoned the gunman and the driver of KT Rama Rao, IT Minister in Telangana Government and also son of Chief Minister of Telangana K Chandrasekhar Rao.
The AP CID, which tried to serve the notices but in vain sought the residential addresses of the duo from the Telangana Government. The AP CID has written to the the Telangana Intelligence Security Wing urging it to serve its notices on the duo.
Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee president N Raghuveera Reddy sought a CBI probe into the matter, while YSR Congress leader and former APCC president Botcha Satyanarayana asked the Telangana Government if it would let go a common man scot free if his name was referred to in a charge-sheet of a criminal case so many times.
Senior TDP MLA Ravula Chandrasekhar Reddy said he saw a foul play and a conspiracy to weaken the party in Telangana by mentioning the name of Chandrababu Naidu in the charge-sheet.
However, whether the political establishments in the divided states would want to pursue justice-delayed-is-justice-denied or justice-hurried-is-justice-buried remains very tricky to answer.
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