After two days of facing questions about his own role in the Revanth Reddy cash-for-vote controversy, Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu hit back on Thursday, accusing the Telangana government of resorting to “blackmail tactics.” It was in fact the TRS, the neighbouring State’s ruling party, that had bought over five TDP MLAs, of whom one was even offered a ministerial berth.
Mr. Naidu picked up the TRS’s gauntlet during his public meeting at Chebrolu in East Godavari district, while not mentioning the name of Mr. Revanth Reddy. He asserted that he was never involved in any corrupt practices during his political life. “I have been in politics for over three decades and people know what kind of a leader I am. Besides purchasing my party’s MLAs in broad daylight, the Telangana government is now trying to slander my image. They can’t threaten me as I have never committed any mistake,” he said. Finding fault with the YSR Congress Party for not condemning the moves of the Telangana government, Mr. Naidu wondered why the Opposition was maintaining silence over the issue.
Fellow Ministers took Mr Naidu’s lead and launched broadsides at the TRS as well. Finance Minister Y. Ramakrishnudu recalled a Supreme Court ruling that sting operations are not legally valid and questioned how cases could be booked based on tapes that have no legal sanctity.
He sought to know how cases could be registered without sending the third party tapes to a forensic laboratory and getting its report.
Alleging that the incident involving Mr. Revanth Reddy exposed the collusion between the TRS and YSRC, he said it was condemnable that “vindictive” attempts were being made to implicate the Chief Minister against whom a conspiracy was being hatched. Criticising the support extended by the YSRC to TRS, he said it showed that party’s bankruptcy.
This was clearly reflected in the manner in which cameras were positioned in four places ahead of Mr. Revanth Reddy’s visit. He said cases should be booked after sending the report to forensic laboratory and after recording evidence. He sought to know why no case was booked against nominated MLA Elvis Stephenson who invited Mr. Revanth Reddy to his house.
Mr. Ramakrishnudu also took exception to comments made by Home Minister Nayini Narasimha Reddy wondering whether it would not be tantamount to influencing the police department and indulging in “blackmail”.
Another Minister Kamineni Srinivas said the Anti-Corruption Bureau caught Mr. Reddy as per the directions of the TRS government. “How is it possible to release the CDs containing the footage of Mr. Reddy within an hour after he was caught?” he asked.