A day after high drama unfolded at a farmhouse in Hyderabad over allegations of horse-trading by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), highly placed sources in the Telangana government told The Quint that a total of Rs 250 crore was allegedly offered as bribe to four Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) MLAs who were allegedly lured to join the BJP.
Moreover, the source further said, "Top leaders of the BJP including Amit Shah and BL Santhosh were mentioned during the negotiation that was held in Hyderabad."
According to the source, who is in the know of Cyberabad Police’s investigation into the case, while Pilot Rohith Reddy was allegedly offered Rs 100 crore, the other three MLAs Bheeram Harshavardhan Reddy, P Rega Kantha Rao, and Guvvala Balaraju were allegedly offered Rs 50 crore each. Rohith Reddy lodged a complaint, on 26 October, with the Rajendranagar Police accusing two persons – Satish Sharma alias Ramachandra Bharati and Hyderabad businessman Nandakumar – of offering him Rs 100 core.
'Negotiation on Behalf of Amit Shah'
The highly placed source further told The Quint, “There is video and audio evidence which corroborates that this huge sum of money was offered. It is shocking.” The evidence is expected to be released to the public later on Thursday, 27 October, the source said. Moreover, the source added, “The accused have said that they negotiated the deal on behalf of BJP leader and Home Minister Amit Shah.”
The controversy erupted on 26 October when Cyberabad Police conducted a search at a farmhouse located in Aziz Nagar in Hyderabad where the four MLAs allegedly met with the three accused persons – Satish Sharma, Nandakumar, and Simhayaji Swamy. It is being claimed that Satish Sharma hails from Delhi and Simhayaji is from Tirupati. On Thursday, Cyberabad Police registered an FIR booking all the three under IPC section for criminal conspiracy.
How Did the ‘Conspiracy’ Unfold?
According to the FIR, MLA Rohith Reddy has accused the three of not just offering him money but also “central government’s civic work contracts and high central government positions” in exchange of joining the BJP.
The FIR read, “They (Satish Sharma and Nandakumar) also stated that if he does not join the BJP, there will be criminal cases and raids by Enforcement Directorate and Central Bureau of Investigations and Telangana government led by the TRS will be toppled by them.”
According to the FIR, Rohith Reddy has also complained that the two asked him to mobilise other TRS MLAs by promising to offer them Rs 50 crore each. Rohith Reddy has also stated that the three accused approached him and other MLAs in the farmhouse to “finalise the deal.”
The source told The Quint, “What is exposed is a chain of corruption in which prominent BJP leaders including Amit Shah and BL Santhosh (National General Secretary, Organisation) of the BJP, are accused of having been involved in making the deal. There is audio evidence to corroborate the allegation.”
The BJP’s state unit has, however, vehemently refuted the claims made by Rohith Reddy. “The BJP does not do horse-trading. There has to be a basis for an allegation this big. But there is none. None of the accused individuals have any role in the BJP nor are they members of the party. Even if the names of our top leaders come up in whatever audio or video clip there is, they are merely allegations,” said Krishna Sagar Rao, spokesperson of Telangana BJP.
The party will not be affected by the allegations, he said. However, with Munugode bypoll expected to be held on 3 November, the BJP’s leaders including Union Minister G Kishan Reddy have come out to staunchly condemn the allegations. In Munugode, a three-way fight is expected to unfold between the TRS, the Congress, and the BJP. Also, Telangana Legislative Assembly elections are scheduled to be held in 2023.
‘Deal Was To Be Brokered Ahead of Nadda’s Imminent Visit to Telangana’
The source further alleged, “The accused Ramachandra Bharati (Satish Sharma) is a top RSS man. He has frequently travelled with Amit Shah and perhaps also, Prime Minister Narendra Modi. What we have at hand it an explosive investigation.”
The source said that the MLAs were allegedly contacted well in advance because the attempt was to get them to join the BJP ahead of party president JP Nadda’s visit to Munugode on 31 October. Nadda is expected to hold a public function at Munugode on the last day of the election campaign. Congress turncoat Komatireddy Raj Gopal Reddy is the BJP’s candidate in Munugode. It was his resignation from the Congress that necessitated the bypoll.
A TRS source told The Quint, “The episode has boosted the morale of our cadre as they are now sure that our MLAs won’t fall for allurement.”
Meanwhile the BJP’s Krishna Sagar Rao said, “We are sure of winning the polls because this drama staged by the TRS will backfire and it will lead to people rallying behind us.”
The source, who is close to the investigation, however, said that no money was exchanged between the accused and the complainant MLAs. “The offer was made but no money was exchanged,” the source confirmed. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao is expected to hold a media briefing in Hyderabad to reveal other details of the case.