BJP National Secretary BL Santosh was named as a suspect in the alleged poaching of MLAs in Telangana. The number of suspects in the case now stands at seven. At an earlier hearing, the court had ordered the police not to arrest the senior BJP leader as he was not named as a suspect, but it remains to be seen how things will proceed now.
BJP spokesman Krishna Sagar Rao said the party has no comment on the development for now. Meanwhile, Santhosh also received a second notice on Wednesday to appear for questioning by the special investigation team formed into the case.
The Telangana High Court allowed the SIT to issue a new notice under Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure after Santhosh failed to appear after the initial notice. Judge B Vijayasen Reddy asked the SIT to make the notification via email or WhatsApp.
The BJP leader has been asked to appear for questioning on November 26. He did not appear as directed on November 21, citing a busy schedule due to elections. In addition to him, two others – Hyderabad-based lawyer Pratap Goud and the wife of the main defendant, Chitralekha – were also notified.
In a recent state meeting, Bandi Sanjay Kumar, head of the Telangana BJP, said his party will not spare the Telangana Rashtra Samithi for “harassing” Santhosh. He said the BJP leader is selfless pracharak work for the country.
“Who are these people using Santhosh’s names in these videos? They have nothing to do with the BJP. KCR is frightened as its party leaders are being investigated for corruption charges. He is trying to tarnish the BJP’s image,” Kumar said.
Previously, notices were given to four individuals: Santhosh, Dr. Jaggu Swamy, Tushar Vellapally (President of Bharath Dharma Jana Sena) and A Srinivas (a lawyer known to be a distant relative of the Telangana BJP chief). So far only Srinivas has appeared before the SIT.
Three individuals – Ramachandra Bharati aka Satish Sharma, Simhayaji and Nanda Kumar – were arrested by Cyberabad police in October from a farm in Moinabad after allegedly trying to lure four TRS leaders to the BJP. The arrest came after a raid, based on a tip from TRS leader Pilot Rohit Reddy. He claimed that while he was offered Rs 100 crore to join the saffron party, three others were promised Rs 50 crore each.
After the arrests, alleged audio recordings of the conversations between the main suspects circulated on the internet. The three main defendants are heard talking to Rohit Reddy about negotiations and the number of MLAs they wanted. Santhosh’s name figures prominently in the conversation. He is reportedly the person orchestrating the deal, the men in the conversation are heard to say.
SC asks Telangana HC to reconsider petition for CBI probe
In a related development, the Supreme Court quashed the Telangana HC’s leads on Nov. 15, allowing the SIT to investigate the alleged poaching case. In response to a petition filed by the three main defendants in the case, the SC asked the HC to reconsider their plea for transfer of the case to the CBI.
The HC had asked the SIT not to report to any political or executive body. It had also asked the team to submit its report in a sealed envelope to prevent leaks to the media. However, the SC bank found that some of the HC’s directions were legally untenable.
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