Cash for vote scam: TDP MLA in judicial custody
(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Revanth Reddy nabbed in bid to bribe MLC nominee Rs50 million.
Hyderabad: In a major embarrassment to the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) senior party leader and lawmaker Revanth Reddy was caught red-handed by officials of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) while he was allegedly trying to bribe Elvis Stephenson a nominated member of the Telangana Legislative Council from the Anglo-Indian community on the eve of the election to six seats in the Council.
Revanth Reddy who was remanded to 14 days judicial custody by a court in Hyderabad on Monday was however allowed to participate in the election process held in the state legislature premises. “Revanth Reddy was allowed to cast his vote in the MLC elections today by the court where he was produced after his arrest along with two others in connection with the case’ ACB Director-General A K Khan said.
Based on a complaint filed by Elvis Stephenson ACB officials took Reddy and two of his aides into custody on Sunday night after they were caught allegedly handing over Rs5 million as bribe to the nominated MLA as advance to vote in favour of the TDP nominee. The entire episode took place at Stephenson’s residence at Lalaguda in Secunderabad. The remaining amount of Rs45 million of the Rs50 million “deal” was to be handed over on Monday after the polling process the top cop said.
Immediately after the arrest An FIR was registered against them under Section 12 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC the ACB officer said adding: “The police also recovered Rs5 million in cash and as per a preliminary probe it was an advance amount as part of the bribe deal. We have audiovisual evidence about the alleged deal. It is cognisable and non-bailable offence. Efforts are on to nab another accused M Jerusalem” Khan said.
As per the purported footage of the conversation between Reddy and Stephenson about the deal which was aired by news channels Stephenson asked Reddy “Four and half what?” to which Reddy replied: “Four and half crore. Total Rs5 crore (Rs 50 million) which is what you asked. I convinced my boss.”
According to the footage Reddy also promised to take “care” of Stephenson if anything went “wrong.” The Telangana Legislative Assembly Speaker and Telangana Election Commissioner were also informed of the ACB action.
Revanth Reddy speaking to the media before being whisked away by the cops claimed he was innocent. “Why would I do such a thing when I am not even in the contest? The Telangana government has already filed 100 illegal cases against me but I will not be cowed down by such methods. I will continue to fight against KCR (Telangana chief minister and Telangana Rashtra Samithi President).”
According to sources the onus of having TDP candidate Ven Narender Reddy elected to the Council was on Revanth Reddy. With the TDP down to just 10 MLAs in the Telangana Assembly from its original 15 members following the defections to the ruling party the opposition party was desperate to ensure the victory of its candidate in a battle which was increasingly being seen in favour of the ruling TRS.
Police said Revanth Reddy had contacted Stephenson three days ago in his attempt to lure him to the TDP side. On Friday the nominated MLA complained to the ACB alleging that the MLA was trying to lure him with money and the sleuths laid a trap based on the written complaint.
Meanwhile the election to the MLC posts began amid tight security with police personnel guarding every vantage point and entrance to the Assembly premises.
The security arrangements were such that even the media personnel were confined to a corner near the Media Point. Barricades were put up to prevent journalists electronic media personnel for going anywhere the entrance of Assembly.
There are seven candidates in the fray including five from the TRS and one each from the Congress and the TDP-BJP combine. In the House of 120 including nominated MLA the Left parties — CPI and CPI (M) with one member each decided to keep away from polling. The YSR Congress and the MIM MLAs have decided to back the TRS boosting the ruling party’s chances.
Each candidate has to secure 16.85 first preference votes to win the election.
The TRS is sure to win four seats but the contest turned interesting after the fifth candidate was fielded by the TRS.
There have been allegations of poaching and the defection of TDP MLA from Kukatpally Madhavaram Krishna Rao two days ago to the TRS electrified the election scenario.
Meanwhile in a last ditch effort President of Telangana Telugu Desam Party L Ramana TDP MP Malla Reddy and MLAs wrote separate letters to Governor E S L Narasimhan Chief Election Commission and State’s Chief Electoral Officer seeking “restoration of democracy” in Telangana and postponement of MLC elections.
In almost identical letters they accused KCR of following “most unethical practices to lure MLAs and public representatives elected on other political party tickets to join the TRS by offering them money or threatening them with illegal methods like tapping phones and snooping on them.”
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