BJP’s BL Santhosh Won’t Be Questioned For Now In Telangana MLA Poaching Case


Mr Santhosh may have cited Gujarat electionrelated work.


Senior BJP leader BL Santhosh won’t be questioned for now in the case of alleged conspiracy to “buy” four MLAs from Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s TRS as the Telangana High Court today granted a stay till December 5 on notices issued to him by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that’s probing the allegations.

BL Santhosh had approached the court after the SIT had issued a second notice to BJP National General Secretary (Organisation) Mr Santhosh to appear either on November 26 or November 28, following directions from the Telangana High Court. He is yet to appear before the investigation team.

Mr Santhosh may have cited Gujarat election related work, which he has been busy with. It was one of the reasons he cited for him not being available in Delhi when the notice was to be issued to him. The first notice was to be issued to him through the Delhi Police.

On November 21, he said he did not receive the first notice, which was dated November 16. The court then said that it could be sent to him via e-mail and WhatsApp. Subsequently, he was asked to appear before the SIT for questioning on November 26 or November 28.

Karuna Sagar, BJP lawyer, said the court had not found sufficient basis to issue notices under Section 41.

The SIT had on Thursday filed a memo in a special Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) court in Hyderabad, adding the names of Mr Santhosh and two persons from Kerala — Jaggu Swami and Tushar Vellapally — besides B Srinivas, as accused in the case. A top source said that was because the three people were dodging the SIT and not appearing for questioning.

Three people — Ramachandra Bharati alias Satish Sharma, Nanda Kumar and Simhayaji Swamy — were already named as accused in the case and arrested last month, for allegedly making “an offer of Rs 100 crore” to the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) legislators at a farmhouse. A complaint was lodged by TRS MLA Pilot Rohith Reddy, among four legislators, against them on October 26.

Rohith Reddy alleged that the accused offered him Rs 100 crore and in return the legislator had to leave the TRS and contest as a BJP candidate in the next Assembly election.

The Cyberabad police had registered a case based on audio tapes that were leaked first, and then video clips also shared by the Chief Minister Rao. The Chief Minister had played out clips from the tapes and had claimed that ‘evidence’ runs into almost one lakh pages.

The Telangana government on November 9 ordered the setting up of a seven-member SIT to probe into the alleged poaching of the MLAs. The BJP had sought a CBI probe into the episode. The High Court had said the SIT, headed by Hyderabad police commissioner CV Anand, could proceed with the probe, and it would be monitored by a judge. The SC in its order dated November 21 said it cannot be monitored by a High Court judge, and had asked the high court to independently examine the plea asking 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 role against PM Modi and the BJP in 2024.

It also comes at a time when there have been ED and IT raids on Telangana ministers. Last week, Telangana minister Gangula Kamalakar, who is into mining businesses, was raided by ED teams in Karimnagar. This week, Telangana’s labour and employment minister, whose family runs several colleges, was raided by IT teams who were accompanied by the CRPF.

Malla Reddy yesterday filed a police complaint alleging harassment by IT officials. He said his elder son Mahender Reddy had to be hospitalised because of that. After a plea in the High Court by Malla Reddy’s second son Bhadra, a stay on proceeding further in the case has been granted for four weeks.

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