A day after the phone-tapping row between the newly bifurcated States hotted up, the Andhra Pradesh Cabinet on Tuesday accused the Telangana government of tapping the phones of Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, Ministers and others, and adopted a resolution urging the Centre to order an inquiry as it was tantamount to violating personal liberty guaranteed under the Constitution.
Briefing reporters, Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu said the Cabinet also passed another resolution requesting the Centre to immediately set right the defects in the A.P. Reorganisation Act, 2014.
The Cabinet wanted the Centre to frame rules and guidelines under Section 8 of the Act, vesting the Governor with powers to protect law and order, individual liberty and properties of the citizens in Hyderabad, the common capital for Telangana and A.P.
Naidu to brief Modi, Jaitley
Mr. Ramakrishnudu on Tuesday said the A.P. government had information that Telangana tapped the phones of 120 individuals, including MPs, MLAs and officials, besides those of Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and Ministers.
Briefing reporters on the Cabinet meeting, Mr. Ramakrishnudu claimed that ruling party leaders in Telangana themselves stated that phones had been tapped.
He maintained that the statement of Telangana Home Minister N. Narsimha Reddy on the audio tape, purported to contain the conversation of Mr. Naidu with nominated MLA Elvis Stephenson in the ‘cash-for-vote’ deal, was proof of this.
He said Mr. Naidu, who left for Delhi, would brief Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday on the phone-tapping issue and the need to vest the Governor with powers on law and order in Hyderabad and also amend certain provisions in the A.P. Reorganisation Act.
The A.P. Chief Secretary and the DGP would also meet the Cabinet Secretary and the Union Home Secretary and hand over copies of the Cabinet resolutions.
Mr. Ramakrishnudu said the A.P. government has to function without any hindrance as per the A.P. Reorganisation Act and the Telangana government has no scope to interfere.
The Governor was empowered to settle disputes between the two States. Referring to the alleged phone tapping, he said the personal liberty and security of Mr. Naidu, ministers and others were at stake. He pointed out that most of the police belonged to Telangana and under its control. As per the Telegraph Act, phone tapping was under the purview of the Centre and therefore the TS government had committed a “big crime” under the Constitution.
Mr. Ramakrishnudu said Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan has to treat the States equally. He said the A.P. government has been asking the Governor to use his powers whenever there was problem with Telangana. The Governor should make both the governments sit together and settle the dispute.
Replying to a question, he said the audio tape was doctored. He parried questions on whether the Cabinet discussed the issue of recalling the Governor and on the ‘intelligence failure’ of the A.P. police.