By: A Saye Sekhar
By having a notice issued to T-News, a Telugu news channel backed by the family of Chief Minister KCR, in the dead of midnight, his bete noire and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has taken his war with Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) to a new low.
For those who came in late, T News is the first Telugu news channel that has aired the purported audio tapes of a telephone conversation between Chandrababu Naidu and nominated Anglo-Indian MLA in Telangana Assembly Elvis Stephenson.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu. IBNLive imageAndhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu. IBNLive image
Ever since Telugu Desam MLA A Revanth Reddy was caught “red-handed” and arrested in the cash for vote muddle, the Telugu Desam Party has been making vain bids to whitewash the party’s overture with the Anglo-Indian MLA. However, on the other hand, the sordid episode is seen by many across both states as despicable and has fallen flat on the face of the TDP in general and its supremo in particular.
Soon enough, the rank and file of the TDP have sardonically begun a hue and cry against the TRS and Telangana government over the episode. Notwithstanding the ‘tactical counter-offensive campaign’ [a strategy devised and implemented by the People’s War Group, the erstwhile form of CPI (Maoist)], by the TDP, their voice has seemingly whimpered with the brittle arguments.
Here are the 10 reasons why the wiles of Chandrababu Naidu and his bandwagon are too feeble for people to buy.
1. As soon as Revanth Reddy was arrested, the TDP described it as a conspiracy by KCR to embarrass Chandrababu Naidu. But no one could brush aside the video footage telecast on channels as false and fabricated, for the scenes and voices of the accused in the cash for vote case have been captured in their ugliest form.
2. Once the issue percolated deep down into the people’s minds, audiotapes of a purported conversation between Naidu and Stephenson surfaced, rattling the TDP and shaking the AP government. This came as such a rude shock to the TDP that it has spared no effort to portray the episode as a war between the two states, but to no avail.
3. Soon after the audiotapes were telecast, AP government’s advisor Parakala Prabhakar, husband of Union Minister Nirmala Seetharaman, came in front of the TV cameras and averred three mutually contradictory statements: a. That the voice in the recorded tapes was not that of Chandrababu Naidu; b. That the voice of Naidu was edited by picking it up in bits and pieces from different occasions; c. The telephones of the Chief Minister were tapped by the sly Telangana government, which was illegal. The statements of Prabhakar did a lot of disservice to the TDP by jeopardizing its chances of sticking to one charge of telephone tapping.
4. Chandrababu Naidu ,too, had to go about town saying that the telephones of 125 important people in Andhra Pradesh were “illegally tapped” by the Telangana government. He also had to cling on to the argument that his voice was superimposed on the tapes by an act of “cut-copy-paste”. The slew of 80-odd cases filed against KCR across different places in Andhra Pradesh, charging him with telephone tapping, is now being seen as a bid by the TDP government to create an inter-state legal wrangle and “divert the attention” of the country from the cash for vote case.
5. The subsequent constitution of Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe these cases; and the complaint filed by one of the accused persons in the cash for vote case Jerusalem Mathaiah accusing the top-brass of the TRS of threatening him with dire consequences laid bare the TDP’s counter-offensive efforts and its tottering stand over the grounds of moral turpitude on which the Telangana government attacked it.
6. Chandrababu Naidu could neither rule out that it was his voice that was recorded in the audiotapes that “were put out” in a TV interview with Rajdeep Sardesai of India Today. His incoherent responses to Pallavi Ghosh in an interview to CNN-IBN too laid bare the weak-kneed approach of the TDP.
7. The bogey raised by the AP government over the implementation of Section 8 of the AP Reorganisation Act 2014 – empowering the Governor to oversee the law and order in Hyderabad – further melted the “presumably solid” stand of the TDP over the telephone tapping charge, which it brought out only after Revanth Reddy’s case was exposed.
8. The bleating of TDP leaders, including some ministers, against Governor ESL Narasimhan in geometric progression reached its crescendo, only with a perceived threat that the constitutional head of the two states might accord permission for criminal proceedings against AP Chief Minister. After critcising him with the proverbial bell, book and candle for three full days, the windbags withdrew their comments at the behest of their boss, albeit behind the scene, only “if our comments have hurt the feelings of the Governor.” A minister K Acchennaidu, brother of former Union Minister the late Yerran Naidu, went to the extent of calling the Governor a “caparisoned ox”. But the demo of remorse among them was orchestrated only after the reports that the Governor was peeved by such churlish comments.
9. The TDP government of AP, which is harping on a high-decibel campaign about Hyderabad being the common capital, has begun nursing the idea of setting up of its own police stations in the city. This would lead to a “constitutional deadlock” and internally some TDP leaders were confessing that this is what the leadership wanted precisely. If not anything else, this will, at least, trigger Centre’s intervention to bail out Chandrababu Naidu. However, the TRS government has been effectively countering this asserting that there hasn’t been a single incident that ignited a regional discord in Hyderabad in the last one year.
10. Last, but not the least, the Chandrababu Naidu Administration had Visakhapatnam Assistant Commissioner of Police serve a notice on T-News channel on the intervening night of Friday and Saturday seeking an explanation under Section 19 of Cable TV Network Regulation Act -1995 for airing the audio tape” conversation that could lead to a “discord” and provoke tensions between people of the two states and political parties. This is also likely to ascribe an inter-state dimension to the ongoing episode.
What is asphyxiating the TDP is that the BJP is not lending its shoulder to its junior NDA partner in the hour of crisis. This led to the social media braggarts of the TDP to train their guns at the BJP and Narendra Modi.
These numerous acts of omission and commission to project the cash for vote as a flash point between the two states was, however, denounced vehemently by Telangana Chief Minister KCR and several TRS leaders, who said that it was “a serious case of political corruption” and the people of both States had nothing to rue about it.