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Cash-for-vote: Court orders probe into allegations against AP

Hyderabad: A court here today directed the Telangana anti-corruption bureau (ACB) to investigate allegations made in a complaint against Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu with regard to the cash-for-vote case involving party MLA A Revanth Reddy.

An ACB court hearing a private complaint filed by YSR Congress MLA Alla Ramakrishna Reddy, asked the agency to probe the allegations and submit report on September 29.

In May 2015, nominated MLA in Telangana Assembly Elvis Stephenson had lodged a complaint alleging that he was offered Rs 5 crore by Revanth Reddy to vote for Telugu Desam nominee in the election to the Telangana Legislative Council on June 1.

On May 31, ACB arrested Revanth Reddy, Bishop Sebastian Harry and Rudra Udaya Simha when they were allegedly handing over an advance sum of Rs 50 lakh to Stephenson. TDP MLA Sandra Venkata Veeraiah was arrested in the case later.

All of them were subsequently granted bail.

A charge sheet filed by the ACB on July 28 last year had mentioned TDP chief Naidu’s name, but not as an accused.

An audio tape of Naidu’s purported conversation with Stephenson over phone on May 30, a day before the ACB arrested Revanth, found its way to the media.

Ramakrishna Reddy, in his complaint, alleged that Naidu was involved in a criminal conspiracy with Revanth and others to offer the bribe to secure Stephenson’s vote.

The ACB failed to compare the voice in the tape with Naidu’s voice sample which was a “purposeful and calculated” act to save Naidu, he said.

P Sudhakar Reddy, Ramakrishna Reddy’s lawyer, said that his client had sent a copy of the audio tape to a forensic lab, and the lab report confirmed that it was Chandrababu’s voice.

The report was submitted to the ACB court.
In the audio tape, Naidu purportedly tells Stephenson that “Maa vaallu (our people) briefed me….”

Naidu’s communication adviser Parakala Prabhakar (Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s husband) had first said it was not the Chief Minister’s voice, but also claimed the Naidu words, spoken on various occasions, had been “cut and pasted” to create a fake conversation.

The case was nearly forgotten and the ACB court’s order comes as a jolt to the TDP and Naidu.

TDP leaders, in private conversations, tried to put a brave face on the development, saying, “Nothing will happen.”

Naidu, who just returned from a two-day tour of Anantapuramu and Chittoor districts, was said to be consulting his legal team.

“There is now no escape for Chandrababu Naidu. Nobody can save him as more startling revelation will come out soon,” YSRC spokesman Ambati Rambabu said.