Political Slugfest Erupts Over Cash-for-Vote Scam

New Delhi
Political Slugfest Erupts Over Cash-for-Vote Scam

A political slugfest today erupted after a taped conversation between Chandrababu Naidu and an MLA surfaced in connection the cash-for-vote scam, with Congress demanding the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister's resignation and TRS daring him to take a lie-detector test even as Naidu denied it was his voice in the tape.

"We demand the resignation of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu. When a scam of such magnitude has come to the fore, why is the BJP and the Prime Minister keeping mum?" Congress spokesperson Shobha Oza said.

She alleged that both the TDP and TRS were resorting to "unconstitutional means" to stay in power. Oza also targeted Telangana's ruling TRS saying a probe is required in the wake of a host of allegations against TRS government including that of snooping and phone-tapping.

She said that a judicial enquiry must be initiated by an Supreme Court judge in the scam and Naidu should step down as Chief Minister before the probe starts to ensure an impartial investigation.

Under attack over his alleged bribe offer, Naidu today accused his Telangana counterpart K Chandrasekhar Rao of conspiring against him and called Congress President Sonia Gandhi a "betrayer" for dividing Andhra Pradesh.

Naidu alleged a conspiracy against him and said he has led a life of integrity all along.

Telangana IT Minister K T Rama Rao challenged Naidu to take a lie-detector test on live TV. "I am ready, if Chandrababu Naidu is ready. We will both take a lie detector test on live TV. He should appear before the world on whether he has indulged in corrupt practices. Those guilty will have to come before public," Rama Rao said.

Adviser to AP Government Parakala Prabhakar said, "It is a very serious matter. The so-called tape does not contain Andhra Chief Minister's conversation. It is a doctored tape. It is not the voice of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister."

BJP, however, maintained a cautious approach with Union Minister Bandaru Dattareya saying, "An inquiry is being held. Let the report come out first, only then will I respond. Let the reports come, talking about it beforehand will not be proper."

The Andhra Pradesh chief minister was caught in a row in the wake of some news channels airing an audio recording of a purported conversation Naidu had with a nominated legislator seeking his vote in the Legislative Council elections.

Meanwhile, in a fresh twist in the cash-for-votes scam, Andhra Pradesh police today registered a case against Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao over the alleged illegal tapping of the phones of Naidu.

In a strongly-worded attack, Naidu warned Rao that things should not be stretched too far.

"I said it earlier. They have indulged in politics of corruption and conspiracy. The Congress, TRS and YSR Congress party are again conspiring against me. I have lived with honesty and for public service. While Andhra Pradesh develops, this efficient KCR (Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao) is unable to do anything and is conspiring against me," Naidu said at a programme in Guntur.

In an attack on Congress president Gandhi, he accused the party of doing injustice to Andhra Pradesh while bifurcating the state.

"When the state was bifurcated on June 2, we held the 'Nava Nirmana Deeksha'. That day was Italy's, Sonia Gandhi's native country's, independence day. On that day, we were hit on our stomach. Sonia Gandhi is such a leader. We cannot forget June 2 in our life," he said.

"Whenever June 2 arrives, we have to question the injustice done to us. Those who betrayed, they are betrayers of Telugu people and the Congress can never stand again," Naidu said.

BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra said with the alleged tape coming to the front there is a war between TRS and TDP with each other levelling allegations against each other. While one faction is alleging illegal phone-tapping, the other is talking of a bribery attempt.

"Definitely under such scenario, the law should take its own course. No one who has erred as per the rule of law should be spared," Patra said.

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