T News, a news channel owned by family members of Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, says ACB is gearing up to slap notices on Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu and a couple of Rajya Sabha members in cash-for-vote case. According to the news channel, which has access to key information in government and ACB, notices would be issued once the investigating agency receives the report about the veracity of audio tapes which contained purported telephonic conversation between Chandrababu Naidu and nominated MLA from Telangana Elvis Stephenson, from Forensic Sciences Laboratory. The contents of the report will be crucial as it would form the basis for Revanth Reddy’s bail and arrest of some more people. The report is expected today or tomorrow, T New said.
In what could be a politically inflammable action, Centre is said to have asked governor ESL Narasimhan to monitor the probe being done by Telangana ACB into the cash-for-vote scam.
ESL Narasimhan is the joint governor Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. At a time when Andhra Pradesh is insisting on investing of special powers enshrined in the Section 8 of Andhra Pradesh reorganization Act-2014 with governor and Telangana resisting it tooth and nail, any such directive from the Centre to the governor would make the political situation explosive in the two states.
The sensational news is carried by English news channel NDTV this afternoon.
[pullquote position=”left”]Raj Bhavan sources neither denied nor confirmed the reports and governments of AP and Telangana chose not to react officially[/pullquote]
According to NDTV, Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi has advised governor Narasimhan to intervene in the dispute that arose between AP and TS out of a sting-operation into the cash-for-vote scam. The sting led to the arrest of TDP MLA Revanth Reddy. Entrusting the responsibility of monitoring the case to governor means implementing the section 8 of Act. NDTV says governor Narasimhan had sought legal advice from the attorney-general and the latter advised the former to take control of the probe. It was a oral advice.
“The Governor has special powers under the Section 8 of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, since the two states share the capital, Hyderabad, and two different police forces have jurisdiction in the city,” Rohatgi advised the Governor, according to NDTV.
Talking to Telugu360.com from New Delhi, TRS MP B Vinod Kumar expressed doubts about such instructions having come to governor from New Delhi.
“Its true governor can be instructed by the centre. Similarly, attorney-general can legally guide the centre and governor. But, as far as my knowledge goes, there have been no such orders from the centre,” Vinod said. But he did not deny the report flatly.
Raj Bhavan sources neither denied nor confirmed the reports and governments of AP and Telangana chose not to react officially.
However, notwithstanding the reports of a patch up , AP and Telangana governments continued their efforts to gather solid evidence to prove their allegations against each other in the cash-for-vote scam and phone tapping issue.
AP CID police have reportedly summoned Telecom service providers to inquire into the phone tapping issue at Bhavanipuram Police Station in Vijayawada far away from insecure Hyderabad.
AP police had reportedly instructed them not to erase call data of some important phone numbers that were allegedly tapped in the past six months.
On other side, AP DGP JV Ramudu held a meeting with the members of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed to probe the phone-tapping issue in Hyderabad.
The intelligence bureau (IB) today reportedly submitted a detailed report on the phone tapping issue that was raised by TDP supremo and AP’s chief minister Chandrababu Naidu.
If the buzz is to be believed, the IB has clarified to the centre that no such phone tapping took place, as alleged by AP Government, and no evidence whatsoever was found in the preliminary investigation.
It is to be recalled that Chandrababu Naiduearlier wrote a letter to prime minister Narendra Modi alleging that Telangana Government had resorted to phone tapping and about 124 phones of various functionaries in the government, including the one of chief minister, had been bugged.
Accordingly, the centre directed the IB to look into the matter. Meanwhile, Chandrababu has convened a meeting with top brass of state intelligence wing to discuss the issue.
With AP chief minister Chandrababu Naidu taking up the alleged phone tapping before the Centre, the Telangana government clarified that no such stints were involved in this cash-for-vote scam.
On Tuesday alone, at least nine ministers of Telangana government reiterated that they didn’t resort to phone tapping.
Even as the Anti Corruption Bureau is being blamed over the investigation procedures, ACB chief A K Khan plunged into the scene and briefed the media that the investigation in cash-for-vote was done as per their protocol, involving professionals.
It is known that the police has no authority to leak any of the substantial evidences to the media when the matter is prejudice and ACB too clearly said that they didn’t tap the phone. The question of leaking them to the media, therefore, doesn’t arise, opined political observers.
So, it is evident that the police in this particular alleged tape episode is on a safe land. Who is at blame? Whether telephone line was really tapped or is it a clever play of Stephenson?
Here are some possibilities as to how this conversation was recorded, according to the experts.
Stephenson, the nominated MLA to the Telangana government, approached ACB and submitted a written complaint to the bureau that he was being lured for MLC vote.
As a part of the same, police-based on the written complaint-can presumably tap the telephone calls of Stephenson. While ACB is stressing that chief minister’s phone is not tapped, it is not clarifying anything about tapping Stephenson’s calls.
Also, it must be mentioned here that smart phones in today’s market have an option of auto-record. Apparently, there’s every chance of Stephenson recording Babu’s conversation on his mobile phone and handing it to TRS (his party).
All in all, if Chandrababu Naidu is really convinced that his phone lines are tapped, he has every right to move the court. However, his arguments in public-as to how can chief minister’s phone be tapped-are not acceptable, for the Constitution of India guarantees no separate law for a chief minister.
Beleaguered Naidu will knock on the doors of centre on Wedenesday for a bail-out from the cash-for-vote tangle he is caught in.
He will lodge a complaint with union government that how Telangana government is resorting to phone tapping in Hyderabad, the joint capital of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and making the city insecure for Andhra Pradesh chief minister and other political leaders of the ruling party.
He is scheduled to meet home minister Raj Nath Sigh first and later, Prime Minister Nardenra Modi tommorrow.
He left for New Delhi immediately after the marathon cabinet meeting which revolved around the issue of telephone tapping by the T-government.
As he is fearing the prospect of being questioned by the Telangana ACB, Naidu rushed to Delhi to seek centre’s intervention in the matter, so that the T-ACB drops his name from the FIR.
Sources said Naidu, will also have consultations with legal experts in Delhi to explore the possibility of taking legal action against the T-government.
Similarly, he will exert pressure on the centre to implement the provisions of AP Reogranization Act-2014 that give special powers to the Governor over the joint capital area.
As of now, the provisions are not recognized by the Telangana government and are in cold-storage.
In the six-hour long meeting, in which AP intelligence chief Anuradha was also present, the cabinet thoroughly discussed telephone-tapping issue.
According to sources, some ministers even expressed displeasure over the reported cluelessness of AP intelligence department on the Reventh issue or on the tapping of telephone of chief minister.
Naidu briefed the cabinet on the exercise he had done in the past two days to counter the T-government campaign against Andhra Pradesh government.
Naidu said he had held a meeting with all the service providers like Airtel, Vodafone etc to know more about the phone tapping.
“I gathered from them that on average daily about 5000 phones are being tapped by operators at the request of various investigating agencies in Telugu states,” he told the cabinet.
Finally, the cabinet decided on a three-pronged strategy to nail Telangana government.
One, a team of ministers will call on government ESL Narasimhan to lodge a complaint and seek action against T-government.
Two, the state government will set up a committee that would go into the matter of telephone tapping by T-government or the recording of CM’s reported conversation with T-MLA Elvis Stephenson.
And the three, the government will explore the possibility of approaching the court to rein in Telangana government in intercepting the telephone conversations.
Upping the ante against Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chanrdrababu Naidu has launched his campaign against the phone tapping in New Delhi.
On Wednesday he had a breakfast meeting with union urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu where he discussed the Reventh Reddy episode and phone tapping T-government. Venkaiah is expected to brief union home minister Rajnath Singh and BJP president Amit Shah. Naidu is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Modi at 4 pm and Shah at 5.30 pm. He will also call on President Pranab Mukherjee at 7 PM.
Naidu’s plan is to weather away the negative fall out of cash-for-vote-sting operation conducted by T-ACB on TDP MLA Revenath Reddy with an effective campaign against the tapping of AP chief minister phone by Telangana government.
Though bold-faced initially, the T-government appears to have realised that he was going overboard, started denying phone tapping.