Two purported audio clips of phone conversations over an alleged conspiracy to lure TRS MLAs to BJP and sabotage the state government surfaced in Hyderabad on Friday, 28 October.
In one of the clips, TRS MLA Pilot Rohith Reddy and two others, who now stand accused of luring TRS MLAs to BJP, are heard discussing the alleged plan. In another clip, a conversation between the three accused in the same case, that claims to be quoting Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP's National Secretary (Organisation) BL Santhosh, is heard.
In the purported clips, the accused are heard naming Shah and Santhosh to indicate the saffron party’s readiness to pay Rs 100 crore to MLA Rohith Reddy, and more to others. It is to be noted that The Quint has not independently verified the authenticity of the clips. The BJP had earlier clarified that the party is not connected with any of the accused.
What Is the Case About?
On 26 October, Rohith Reddy accused three persons – Satish Sharma alias Ramachandra Bharati of Delhi, Hyderabad businessman Nandakumar, and Simhajayi Swamy of Tirupati – of luring him and three other MLAs – Bheeram Harshavardhan Reddy, P Rega Kantha Rao, and Guvvala Balaraju – by offering them Rs 250 crore and other incentives to join the BJP. Of the Rs 250 crore, Rs 100 crore was to be allegedly given to Rohith Reddy and Rs 50 crore each was allegedly assured to the other three MLAs.
Cyberabad Police registered an FIR in the case on Thursday, 27 October and arrested the three accused. On the same day, a Ranga Reddy ACB Court rejected the Cyberabad Police’s request to remand the three accused. The police challenged the order in Telangana High Court on Friday, 28 October.
In the purported audio clips that have come out, all the three accused are heard discussing the alleged plan to poach TRS MLAs to overthrow the TRS government in Telangana.
Mention of ‘Higher-Ups’, Amit Shah and BL Santhosh of BJP
In the first purported audio clip, Rohith Reddy is heard addressing a ‘Swamiji,’ believed to be Ramachandra Bharathi, and saying, “Nanduji (Nandakumar) assured of taking care of me in all possible ways – in terms of my security, political career and other (matters) also.”
Satish Sharma’s response to this is heard as, “Same matter we will present in front of No 2 (allegedly Amit Shah) also, in front of you. So that there will not be any issue on this…It is ‘first come, first serve’ always.”
The Quint had on 27 October reported that the Cyberabad Police investigating the case has unearthed audio and video clips where Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP leader BL Santhosh are mentioned by name.
In the conversation, Rohith Reddy also assures Sharma that two others, presumably from the TRS, will also join him in jumping ship. Interestingly, Sharma asks for names of those who may go along with Reddy to allegedly present these to Shah and Santhosh. Sharma also claims that he has been meeting with Santhosh regularly.
In a second purported audio clip, Sharma is heard alluding to a conversation that allegedly happened between Amit Shah and Santhosh, to indicate that they were aware of the attempt to allegedly lure TRS MLAs.
Sharma is heard saying:
“I connected with Santhosh whether he could travel to Hyderabad…Santhosh did a conference call with Amit Shah and he said that for one or three (MLAs) ‘it is not good to go there…you have other works. Let them come to Delhi and we will meet them.’ If five or six (MLAs) more are there, then we can plan (to meet in Hyderabad).”
‘Sathosh Is Decision Maker for No.1, No.2’
In the clip, Sharma is further heard assuring Reddy that BL Santhosh “is the key person” in the BJP. BL Santhosh was deputed to the BJP by the Rashtriya Swamyamsevak Sangh (RSS). The purported clip also mentions his relationship with the RSS.
Sharma is heard saying:
“He is the key person to form the government and every movement is completely organised by BL Santhosh. So, for your kind information, No 1 (allegedly, PM Narendra Modi) and No 2 (allegedly Amit Shah) come to Santhosh for discussion. Santhosh does not go to them. That is the protocol of the RSS which he follows.”
The accused further assures Reddy that they “could sit with Santhosh” and “along with Santhosh we’ll go to No 2 (allegedly Amit Shah).
Though the ACB Court rejecting remand did put the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) on the backfoot by dealing a blow to legislators accusing the BJP of corruption and allurement, the party emerged triumphant on Friday as the clips surfaced. A TRS source told The Quint, “We literally have hours of video and audio recording.”
In the purported clip, Sharma is also heard Reddy that central investigation agencies including Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax Department will favour him if he were to join the BJP.
Sharma is heard saying:
“It is our responsibility to take care of you. When you are under our scanner you don’t have to worry. Including ED to Income Tax and security reason also, are also under our scanner.”
‘They Have No Issue With Payment’
In the second purported audio clip that has surfaced, Sharma is heard saying, “The Centre is always ready for the deal…Payment is not a problem for them (BJP)…”
In the clip it is also alleged that the MLA Rohith Reddy was considered the team leader or the first person to allegedly express interest in joining BJP. According to the clip, Reddy was also allegedly tasked with the job of getting more MLAs and ex-MLAs to join the BJP.
Sharma is also heard expressing his calculation that Rohith Reddy leaving the TRS could lead to the fall of the TRS government in Telangana “within one month.”
In the purported clip Sharma is heard alleging that Sathosh could meet the MLAs on 27 October. The meeting, however, never took place. The police arrested all the three accused on 26 October.
“If he is asking for Rs 100 crore it is no issue. If sitting (MLAs) are there then the BJP is ready to invest anything,” Sharma is heard saying the purported clip.
In the clip, Sharma claims continuously that he has been in touch with BL Santhosh and one Tushar, who allegedly is close to Amit Shah.
However, Cyberabad Police have not revealed details of all the persons named in the clips. It also not clear whether the police could implicate anyone else in the case.
The BJP, meanwhile, has denied all allegations claiming that the whole episode was “staged” by the TRS to win Munugode bypoll scheduled for 3 November. Telangana Legislative Assembly elections are also scheduled for 2023.