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Drama in Telangana as ‘BJP agents’ held for trying to poach TRS MLAs with ‘bribes’, oppn says staged

Three 'BJP agents' held from farmhouse of one of 4 TRS MLAs they tried to lure to rival party, say cops. Both parties have been levelling allegations in run-up to Munugode bypoll.

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Hyderabad: Ahead of the crucial Munugode assembly bypoll, Telangana politics heated up after Cyberabad Police arrested a temple priest and two others for allegedly trying to lure four MLAs of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The ‘BJP agents’ were arrested Wednesday late night from a farmhouse of Pilot Rohith Reddy, one of the four TRS legislators, in the city outskirts, it said.

The police said they carried out the raid after a tip-off from Rohith Reddy who was present at the farmhouse along with fellow MLAs B. Harshvardhan Reddy, G. Balraju, and Rega Kantha Rao. It is still unclear if the police seized cash in the operation.

The First Information Report (FIR), accessed by ThePrint, identified the three accused as Ramachandra Bharati alias Satish Sharma from Faridabad, businessman Nandakumar from Hyderabad and Simhayaji Swamy from Tirupati. Cyberabad Police Commissioner Stephen Ravindra said that Bharati was a temple priest in Faridabad. 

The trio was charged under IPC sections related to criminal conspiracy, criminal intimidation, bribe among others as well as the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Hours after the arrests, video clips of the four MLAs along with the ‘agents’ at the farmhouse went viral on social media. The MLAs are seen calmly sitting on a couch, sipping coffee in the clips. 

According to the FIR filed based on the complaint by Rohith Reddy, Bharati and Nandakumar, who allegedly belong to the BJP, negotiated with him to join BJP and contest the next elections. For this, the complainant claimed that he was offered Rs 100 crore along with civil contracts and other positions of central government with monetary benefits.

“On Wednesday, the MLA was contacted again and informed that they [the accused] were coming to his farmhouse in Aziz Nagar, Moinabad for negotiation and informed him to mobilise a few more TRS MLAs for offering them bribes of Rs 50 crore each to join BJP. They also further induced him and other MLAs to receive amounts and to discharge their public duties improperly and dishonestly so that the Telangana government is destabilised,” the report said.

The ‘agents’ also threatened the MLAs with ED, CBI cases if they did not join BJP, it added. 

Adding fuel to the controversy, old pictures of Bharati with Union Ministers G. Kishan Reddy and Rajnath Singh surfaced on social media.

It was followed by a photograph of Nandakumar with TRS Rajya Sabha MP Santosh Kumar and another from an event where Telangana Finance Minister T. Harish Rao was present. Both Santosh Kumar and Harish Rao are the nephews of Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao.

Another set of viral photos showed Nandakumar with Telangana BJP president Bandi Sanjay and with TRS MLA Harshvardhan Reddy.

This political drama comes at a time when the TRS and the BJP are aggressively preparing for the Munugode bypoll on 3 November. Both the parties have been alleging each other of distribution of large amounts of cash and liquor.

Last week, a video in which a BJP leader was heard talking on phone had gone viral. BJP leaders had claimed that the leader was talking to Telangana IT Minister and KCR’s son K. T. Rama Rao, who was purportedly heard seeking the BJP leader’s support in the Munugode bypoll.

Also Read: ‘What has Modi delivered?’ — KTR flexes ‘national party’ BRS’s muscles, says 2024 polls are target

BJP denies association, demands judicial inquiry

Calling it a cheap political drama, Telangana BJP president Bandi Sanjay demanded a judicial inquiry. “It’s entirely a fake drama, scripted by Pragathi Bhavan [CMO-cum-residence]. We are ready to come to the temple, the police have narrated a laughable drama,” he said in a late night press conference.  

Sanjay also lashed out at the ruling party for dragging seers and priests to create the scene, calling it an attempt to taint the image of Hindu Dharma. The BJP state chief also challenged the CM to take oath at Yadadri temple that he was unaware about this row.

On Thursday, Union Minister G. Kishan Reddy called the arrests as “staged” and raised several questions including why the MLAs went to the farmhouse and agreed to meet certain agents.

“They invited themselves, took photographs, called police, prepared script, direction, selected actors and did make up. Everything happened under the supervision of Pragati Bhavan,” the tourism minister said. 

The BJP moved the Telangana High Court demanding that the case be transferred either to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or any independent agency for fair investigation.

TRS MLA Balka Suman alleged that the BJP is resorting to such ‘cheap tricks’ and targeting the party after KCR announced his plans to establish a national party that would fight against the saffron party at the Centre. 

(Edited by Tony Rai)

Also Read: Race to make films on Nizam – BJP leader among 3 producing movies ahead of Telangana polls


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