The remand report which Cyberabad Police submitted before the Telangana High Court on Friday, 28 October, not just details out the police operation to nab three people, who now stand accused of having attempted to bribe four TRS MLAs to join the BJP, but also has details of what the police claim to be an attempt to "topple the elected government of Telangana."
The three accused – Satish Sharma alias Ramachandra Bharati, K Nandakumar, and DPSKVN Simhayaji – allegedly offered bribe of Rs 250 crore and other incentives to TRS MLAs Pilot Rohith Reddy, Bheeram Harshavardhan Reddy, P Rega Kantha Rao, and Guvvala Balaraju.
The three accused are charged under IPC sections for criminal conspiracy and also relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
Here's why the Telangana Police has called the case an act of “criminal intimidation to topple and destabilise the democratically elected state government,” apart from being an attempt to make the MLAs “defect and discharge their duties improperly and dishonestly.”
#1 Remand Report Claims MLA Was Threatened With ED-CBI Raids
According to the remand report, the alleged attempt to lure the MLAs went on for a month – from 26 September to 26 October 2022. According to the police, while Rohith Reddy was offered Rs 100 crore to join the BJP, he was also intimidated.
“They (the accused) also stated that if he does not join the BJP there will be criminal cases and raids by Enforcement Directorate and Central Bureau of Investigation.”Remand Report
According to the police, it was Pilot Rohith Reddy who lodged a complaint against the three accused on 26 October, which alerted the police of the scheduled meeting between the accused and the four TRS MLAs in Reddy’s farmhouse in Hyderabad. The police bugged the living room of the farmhouse to gather evidence before the three accused met Reddy the same evening. The conversation made in this room was monitored remotely and a code-phrase ‘nariyal pani layiye’ (bring coconut water) was assigned to signal the police to enter the scene when needed.
While the scene may have been set dramatically, another factor that prompted the police to charge a case of criminal conspiracy was the accused’s alleged admittance to having done the same sort of “operation” in other states.
The remand report states that a voice recorder recovered from the spot also had the “voice of Satish Sharma stating that they have done similar defections in Karnataka, Delhi, and other states.”
#2 Remand Report Claims Accused’s Phone Had Message Sent to BJP Leaders
Moreover, the police claim that the voice recorder also disclosed a phone conversation between Satish Sharma and one Tushar about the role of BJP’s National General Secretary BL Santhosh in the saffron party. This conversation was a prelude to the deal which was about to be struck, the police have claimed, indicating ties between the accused and top leaders of the BJP.
According to the remand report, Tushar, with whom the accused had the conversation allegedly, is believed to be Tushar Vellappalli who contested on a BJP ticket to lose to Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad constituency in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
A cell number believed to be that of Tushar Vellapalli was also stored in the accused's phone which, according to the police, was used only to hatch the conspiracy.
From one of the phones seized from accused Satish Sharma, the police have also recovered digital evidence of a message that was allegedly sent to the BJP’s Uttar Pradesh State Secretary Sunil Kumar Bansal, stating, “Need to talk to you important about Telangana. Please suggest some time where I can discuss.”
Another message to a phone number stored under the name ‘Santhosh BJP,’ which, according to the police, is suspected to belong to BL Santosh, read, “As I discussed previously…we have finalised to reach you…All are sitting MLAs from TRS. Ready here in Hyderabad for shifting immediately.” It is to be noted that neither of the recipients have responded to the messages from the accused.
#3 Remand Report Claims Accused's Phone Had List of 50 MLAs from TRS and Congress
Based on preliminary investigation of the crime scene – the farmhouse which was electronically surveilled – the report claims that the accused had prompted the MLAs to perform their duties “improperly and dishonestly” to destabilise the Telangana government.
The remand report also claims that the accused were found to “be attempting to overthrow democratically elected governments belonging to opposition political parties of the BJP by unconstitutional and undemocratic mechanisms and means.”
The other conspirators in the case are yet to be identified, the report reads.
The cell phone of K Nandakumar had evidence of recorded conversations between all the three accused, the remand report claims. Adding to the charge of conspiracy, the phone had the names of 50 MLAs of TRS and Congress. Also, from the accused’s vehicle, which was brought to the farmhouse, the police have recovered a list of the names of 50 MLAs, the remand report claims. The alleged plan was to lure the MLAs to topple the government, the remand report suggests.
On Saturday, 29 April, Telangana High Court remanded the three accused, setting aside a Ranga Reddy Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Court order that had rejected the police’s remand request. Meanwhile, Telangana BJP has denied all allegations levelled against its leaders. On 28 October, BJP State President Bandi Sanjay Kumar swore an ‘oath’ at Yadagiri Temple claiming his party never attempted to poach TRS MLAs.