A Hyderabad court on Monday sent a Telugu Desam Party (TDP) legislator to 14 days in judicial custody after he was purportedly caught on tape trying to bribe another MLA to get a party nominee elected to the state's upper house.
TDP activists organised protests and cried conspiracy over the arrest of A Revanth Reddy who emerged as a prominent face of the party in year-old Telangana while the development also added interest to the legislative council elections held in the assembly.
State anti-corruption branch (ACB) officials took Reddy and two others into custody on Sunday night based on a complaint by MLA Elvis Stephenson after the accused were allegedly found handing over Rs 50 lakh as bribe to the nominated legislator.
Reddy's arrest is a big blow to the TDP in Telangana as he was taking on chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and his family members both inside and outside the assembly.
ACB chief AK Khan said a trap was laid to catch Reddy red-handed after Stephenson complained to them about offers of kickbacks from TDP leaders.
The opposition members reportedly proposed Rs 2 crore initially and later increased it to Rs 5 crore, handing over Rs 50 lakh as advance.
Reddy and his aides had gone to Stephenson's residence at Lalaguda in Secunderabad to allegedly deliver the cash when ACB sleuths caught them.
That none other than the chief minister had full knowledge of the sting operation became known when he reportedly told a group of ruling TRS legislators on Sunday that they should expect “big breaking news” in some time.
Reddy was taken to Chanchalguda central prison along with the two other accused but the court allowed him to cast his vote for the council polls in which the TRS managed to win five and the Congress one of the six MLC seats up for grabs.
While the episode gave the TRS ministers a stick to beat the TDP with, the opposition party's MLAs hit back, accusing Rao of trapping their lawmakers while bribing leaders from the Congress and YSR Congress Party for votes.
“Our MLA was falsely implicated. It is the CM who is luring other party MLAs with money and positions to join his party,” said TDP leader Errabelli Dayakar Rao.
The chief minister had recently vowed to finish off the TDP in the state while two days ago TDP MLA Madhavaram Krishna Rao defected to the TRS, following in the footsteps of four others who have switched sides since last year's assembly polls.