Senior BJP leader BL Santhosh will not be questioned for now in the case of alleged conspiracy to “buy” four MLAs from Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s TRS as Telangana High Court today granted a stay until December 5 on the basis of notices provided to him by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) investigating the allegations.
BL Santhosh had approached the court after the SIT sent a second notice to BJP National General Secretary (Organisation) Mr. Santhosh to appear on November 26 or 28, as per directions from the Telangana High Court. He has yet to appear before the investigative team.
Mr Santhosh may have cited Gujarat election related work, which he has been busy with. It was one of the reasons he cited that he was not available in Delhi when the notice was to be given to him. The first message would be delivered to him through the Delhi Police.
On November 21, he said that he had not received the first reminder, which was dated November 16. The court then said it could be sent to him via email and WhatsApp. He was then requested to appear before the SIT on 26 or 28 November for questioning.
Karuna Sagar, BJP lawyer, said the court had not found sufficient basis to make notifications under Article 41.
The SIT had submitted a memo to a special court of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in Hyderabad on Thursday, naming Mr Santhosh and two individuals from Kerala – Jaggu Swami and Tushar Vellapally – alongside B Srinivas, as accused in the case. A top source said this was because the three people evaded the SIT and failed to appear for questioning.
Three people – Ramachandra Bharati aka Satish Sharma, Nanda Kumar and Simhayaji Swamy – were already named as suspects in the case and arrested last month, allegedly making “an offer of Rs 100 crore” to Telangana Rashtra Samithi lawmakers ( TRS). at a farm. On October 26, a complaint was filed against them by TRS MLA pilot Rohith Reddy, among four legislators.
Rohith Reddy claimed that the accused offered him Rs 100 crore and in return the legislator had to leave the TRS and run as a BJP candidate in the next parliamentary election.
Cyberabad Police had registered a case based on tapes leaked first, then video clips also shared by Chief Minister Rao. The Prime Minister had played excerpts from the tapes and claimed that the ‘evidence’ was almost a lakh pages long.
The Telangana government on 9 November ordered the establishment of a seven-member SIT to investigate the alleged poaching of the MLAs. The BJP had sought a CBI investigation into the episode. The Supreme Court had said that the SIT, headed by Hyderabad Police Commissioner CV Anand, could proceed with the investigation and it would be checked by a judge. The SC said in its Nov. 21 order that it cannot be overseen by a Supreme Court judge and had asked the Supreme Court to independently review the request for a CBI probe.
The poaching allegations come amid heightened political rivalry as Chief Minister Rao, or ‘KCR’, recently renamed the TRS to Bharat Rashtra Samithi to aim for a national roll against PM Modi and the BJP by 2024.
It also comes at a time when there have been ED and IT raids on Telangana ministers. Last week, Telangana mining minister Gangula Kamalakar was ambushed by ED teams in Karimnagar. This week, Telangana’s minister of labor and employment, whose family runs several colleges, was ambushed by IT teams accompanied by the CRPF.
Malla Reddy filed a police complaint yesterday alleging harassment by IT officials. He said his eldest son Mahender Reddy had to be hospitalized for it. After a plea in the Supreme Court by Bhadra, the second son of Malla Reddy, a four-week suspension has been granted to proceed in the case.