Amaravati: The Andhra Pradesh government has accused the management of popular Telugu television news channel TV5 of paying one million Euros (approximately Rs 8.8 crore) to rebel YSR Congress party MP Kanumuru Raghurama Krishnam Raju, as part of the conspiracy against the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government.
The accusation was made in a counter-affidavit filed by the Jagan government before the Supreme Court, which is hearing a petition filed by Raju and two television channels – TV5 and ABN Andhra Jyothy, challenging the sedition case filed by the government against them.
This sensational allegation was brought to light by Bar and Bench on Sunday night. The report quoted extensively from the counter-affidavit of the Jagan government, which alleged that Raju, in collusion with the two TV channels and the Telugu Desam Party, sought to excite disaffection towards the state government.
The Supreme Court had earlier protected two Telugu channels from any coercive action by the Jagan government for their reportage on the COVID-19 pandemic in the state. The SC bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud had issued notice to the Andhra government in the plea.
In the counter-affidavit, the state government alleged that money was exchanged between MP Raju and the TV channels “in furtherance of the conspiracy.”
“In fact, on one instance, an amount of one million euros appears to have been transferred by Chairman of TV5 to RRKR,” reads the affidavit. As a quid pro quo gesture, Raju used his office to benefit various individuals associated with the news channels.
The state government said while freedom of speech is sacrosanct and the press has an essential role in a democracy, it “cannot be permitted to spread hatred and create disaffection against the Government.”
“Media organizations are trustees of the public who must use their platforms in the interests of public and not otherwise,” the affidavit said.
The government said all speeches that were made (and interviews given by Raju) were completely premeditated/coordinated and were aired only after detailed discussions between the news channels, Raju and the TDP members.
“Such speeches also resulted in actual violence on the ground,” the report quoting the affidavit said.
The government pointed out that the conspiracy was exposed on the forensic examination of the call data from the mobile phone of Raju.
“The FSL report pertains to the examination of the seized cell phone from Raju during the course of investigation. The details have been placed in the competent court,” it said.
“It is clear that all the strings were being pulled by TDP and its chief N Chandrababu Naidu. The timing of the calls, the chats and the documents shared between Raju and Chandrababu Naidu as well as Nara Lokesh, clearly point to a bigger conspiracy against the elected government formed by the YSRC party,” reads the reply.
It further said the conversations between MP Raju and the news channels “reveal that after every speech of his, the media persons complimented Raju by bestowing compliments.
The affidavit goes on to state: “The CID enquiry report revealed that MP Raju, being a Member of the Parliament, had consistently and consciously abused his authority/reach as a public person with the sole intention of creating enmity between the various class of citizens and to excite disaffection towards the Government. This was done by delivering hateful speeches on social media platforms as well as media channels such as the Petitioners herein.”
It further alleged that the media houses/petitioners herein were not merely doing their duty in telecasting the press conferences of MP Raju but “were also getting incentivized for the dissemination of material for political or financial gain with a clear conspiracy to create enmity between social groups and through the same, create disaffection against the government, by inciting violence.”