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Chandrababu Naidu in tape tangle

Mon 08 Jun 2015, 11:49:35

Hyderabad: The cash-for-vote case took a new turn on Sunday when some regional news channels telecast audio tapes of the alleged phone conversation between Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and nominated TRS MLA E Stephenson. Minutes after the telecast involving Naidu, Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao rushed to Raj Bhavan and called on Governor E S L Narasimhan.

However, details of the discussion were not revealed to the media. Speculation was rife that the TS police was exploring legal options of serving a notice on Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister following the alleged telephone conversation. Several news channels showed visuals of Revanth Reddy and Stephenson while playing the audio, where two persons were speaking over phone.

The TV channels flashed the name of Chandrababu Naidu alleging that the person’s voice matched with that of the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister. A call conversation released to the media revealed that a close associate of Naidu called on Stephenson and told him that ‘babu garu’ wanted to talk to him regarding the benefits assured by some members of TDP.

Meanwhile, Kodangal MLA A Revanth Reddy, in his confession to the Anti-Corruption Bureau officials on Sunday, is said to have revealed the name of his ‘boss’. However, it could not be confirmed as to whose name he revealed. Revanth is learnt to have told ACB officials, who grilled him for seven hours on the second day of interrogation that he has been assigned the task of mediating in the cash-for-vote scandal during the Legislative Council elections in Telangana.

The MLA was quizzed for the second day by the ACB, where Revanth Reddy reportedly confessed that he tried to bribe nominated MLA Elvis Stephenson following the orders of his ‘boss’. His other associates Sebastian Harry and Rudra Uday Simha too were grilled for seven hours.

On verifying the call data and the recordings of the conversations of Stephenson and Naidu, the ACB had reportedly informed the TRS government about the role of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister in the scandal. The sleuths retrieved the call records in which Revanth named the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister about 75 times during his conversations with MLAs of other parties.

Part of the transcript goes like this: “Hello, Good evening brother, how are you? Our people briefed me. I am with u, don’t bother. For everything I am with you, freely you can decide. What all they spoke, we will honour. No problem at all. That is our commitment; we will work together, no problem. Thanks.”

The record of the call conversation is supposed to have happened between Chandrababu Naidu and Stephenson. The footage of the video in which Revanth informed Stephenson about the ‘code’ that has to be used to receive the remaining Rs 4.5 crore as promised helped the ACB officials to extract information on the unaccounted transactions.

“The investigation led to the seizure of bank account of one of the Rajya Sabha members and another is on the radar,” the sources said. The investigators said that despite Revanth’s non-cooperation during the investigation, a series of questions helped the ACB to piece the missing links in the video footage, call records and movements of Revanth Reddy and his associates during the scam period.

“On verifying the bank transactions of the trio, it was learnt that the money seized during the scandal was unaccounted for. It is suspected that the money could have been moved in through a hawala transaction,” the sources said. “About Rs 150 crore was being mobilised by the TDP for spending on MLAs during the ensuing GHMC elections to bribe the MLAs,” they added.

Sensing the importance of the investigation, ACB DG A K Khan was present during the second day of questioning at the ACB office. It was reported that Khan, along with a joint director and a DSP, monitored the investigation. 

Despite claims by counsel of the accused that Revanth and his associates were sick with sore throat, fever and other ailments, the sleuths questioned the trio for seven hours and reportedly extracted evidence in the case. “Revanth Reddy is suffering from fever, sore throat and severe body pains.

He has answered all the questions asked by the sleuths and cooperated in the investigation,” Revanth Reddy’s counsel Sudheer Kumar said. He said that despite the court’s order to give special treatment to the MLA during his custody, the ACB sleuths did not provide basic amenities to him.


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