BRS MLAs poaching: Telangana High Court transfers case to CBI
The Telangana High Court on Monday transferred the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) MLA poaching case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), in a setback for the ruling party. It disbanded the seven-member special investigation team (SIT) appointed by the Telangana government to investigate the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) attempts to poach BRS MLAs. The case was filed by four ruling party MLAs.
Why does this story matter?
- The case has the BJP at the center as people linked to it were detained by the Telangana Police in October for allegedly trying to poach BRS MLAs.
- Notably, it has often been accused of attempting to poach legislators in non-BJP-ruled states.
- The latest example is Maharashtra—where the saffron party-backed Shiv Sena rebels toppled the MVA government and formed a government with the BJP.
Telangana HC's decision follows 5 petitions seeking CBI probe
In October, the Telangana Police arrested three persons, claiming to have uncovered a plot to destabilize the BRS government. The HC's decision to transfer the probe came after five petitions requested a CBI investigation, per NDTV. While the accused filed one each, the BJP and a lawyer each filed one. Although the BJP plea was dismissed on technical grounds, others prompted the case's transfer.
BJP welcomes court decision
Reacting to the HC's decision, BJP leader and advocate N Ramachander Rao said, "Our argument was...the SIT cannot carry out an impartial inquiry. This is a very important order of the high court. We welcome it." Rao said the CBI probe was a must as CM KCR publicly announced he had access to tapes of alleged poaching attempts as part of a sting operation.
Cryptic reaction by BRS social media convenor
After BJP’s 7 Attempts to handover MLA Poaching Case to CBI, finally its a relief to the hiding mouse 🐁 who is now relieved from the SIT enquiry— krishanKTRS (@krishanKTRS) December 26, 2022
What do we know about the case?
In October, BRS MLA Rohith Reddy alleged that three persons connected to the BJP promised him Rs. 100 crore in exchange for leaving the ruling party and contesting as a BJP candidate in the upcoming 2023 Assembly elections. Later, Reddy, an MLA from Tandur, and three other BRS MLAs filed an FIR in the matter on October 26, which led to several arrests.
These three persons were arrested in October
The three alleged BJP agents arrested in October for luring BRS legislators, who have since been granted bail, include Ramachandra Bharathi alias Satish Sharma, a priest from Haryana's Faridabad, and Nanda Kumar, who owns two restaurants in Hyderabad, the capital of Telangana. The third accused was identified as D Simhayaji, the pontiff of Srimanatha Raja Peetham in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh.
Allegations of a BJP coup attempt
Since 2019, there have been reports that the BJP is attempting to launch "Operation Lotus"—which refers to the poaching of other party MLAs by the BJP—in the BRS-ruled state. The BJP is being accused of attempting to topple Telangana's BRS government by bribing its MLAs.
'BRS's attempt to shift focus,' alleges BJP
Meanwhile, BJP leaders in Telangana earlier accused BRS chief and Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao of plotting "horse-trading drama" to divert attention from real issues. The BRS and the BJP have been at loggerheads for long, but the situation deteriorated since the latter allegedly tried to poach BRS members. Notably, the BJP has just two MLAs against the BRS's 104 in the Telangana Assembly.