In Telangana "Operation Lotus", High Court Asks Accused To Surrender To Police

Three men were arrested this week while allegedly trying to bribe four MLAs of KCR's party to switch to the BJP - a formula that the party's opponents have termed "Operation Lotus".

The TRS MLAs had called the police, saying they were being "lured and bribed to change parties".

Hyderabad:

Three men accused by the Telangana police of trying to poach MLAs from Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao's party, were ordered by the High Court to surrender to the Cyberabad Police Commissioner on Saturday.

The order overruled a lower anti-corruption court, which on Thursday night refused to send the three men to police custody because the judge said the police had failed to issue proper notice to the accused.

The High Court was acting on a revision petition filed by the Cyberabad Police, challenging the lower court's order. The High Court said the three accused should be sent to jail the next time the police present them before the court.

In another plea filed by the BJP in the High Court, asking for an investigation by a "neutral" agency, like the CBI or a Special Investiation Team (SIT) ordered by the court, notices were issued to the respondents. The Cyberabad Police was asked not to proceed with their investigation till the plea was dealt with.

BJP state general secretary, Gujjula Premendar Reddy, had approached the High Court seeking the transfer of the case to the CBI, calling it a conspiracy by the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) to defame his party. He also said that the police were being pressured by the Chief Minister.

The accused were arrested from a farmhouse near Hyderabad on Wednesday night. Police said they were caught in the act of offering bribes to four MLAs of the TRS to switch to the BJP - a formula that the party's opponents have termed "Operation Lotus".

The police claimed that one of the MLAs, Pilot Rohit Reddy - who owns the farmhouse - tipped the police off about the "deal".

A First Information Report or FIR was then registered based on Mr Reddy's complaint that alleges that Rs 250 crore was on the table for four MLAs.

The MLAs called the police, saying they were being "lured and bribed to change parties", Telangana police chief Stephen Raveendra told NDTV. "They said they were offered big money, contracts and posts to switch parties," he said.

If they didn't join the BJP, "there will be criminal cases and raids by ED (Enforcement Directorate)/CBI and the Telangana Government led by TRS party will be toppled," the FIR by Rohit Reddy said.

The BJP, however, denied the allegation and accused the TRS of staging a drama "scripted, directed and produced" by Chief Minister KCR.

Union Minister Kishen Reddy, a senior Telangana BJP leader, said there was "no reason" for them to offer astronomical amounts for four MLAs when the ruling party has a comfortable majority.

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