The cash-for-vote scam that led to the arrest of Telugu Desam Party MLA A. Revanth Reddy a week ago, took a shocking turn on Sunday when T News, a Telugu TV channel, played the audio tape of the purported telephonic conversation between Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and nominated MLA Elvis Stephenson. Mr. Stephenson was offered a bribe of Rs. 5 crore by Mr. Reddy to vote for the TDP candidate in the elections to the Telangana Legislative Council on June 1.
As per the conversation aired by the channel at prime time, it apparently took place after the TDP had established contact with Mr. Stephenson. Mr. Naidu is heard promising the MLA that the commitments given to the latter by his party men would be honoured in toto . He asks the MLA to take the decision freely without bothering about the consequences.
Significantly, Telangana Home Minister Nayini Narasimha Reddy had said in Warangal two days ago that the government was seized of the tape containing the alleged conversation between Mr. Naidu and Mr. Stephenson and that it would make the same public when required.
The broadcast by the channel follows intense interrogation of Mr. Reddy by the Anti-Corruption Bureau on the second day of his police custody at the ACB headquarters at Banjara Hills.
Before being taken to the ACB office, Mr. Reddy caused a flutter at the offices of the Special Investigation Team at the Central Crime Station at Himayatnagar where he was lodged for overnight stay after the first day’s interrogation on Friday. On sighting media persons when he was being driven in a mini bus, Mr. Reddy shouted that he was not given drinking water, clothes or bedsheets in custody.
Sources said the officials questioned Mr. Reddy on whether he had prior financial transactions with Mr. Stephenson and the other arrested persons — Sebastian and Udaysimha. He was also asked whether he lured Mr. Stephenson or vice-versa. If Mr. Reddy had also got in touch with other MLAs of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti was also being probed. Mr. Reddy reportedly asked the interrogators to get the call data of his telephone to get answers to their questions.