MLAs' poachgate lowdown: The unholy war against TRS by BJP

'Operation Farmhouse' may have happened only on October 26. But the plotting to topple the TRS regime has been going on for nearly six months

TRS MLAs poaching

HYDERABAD: The recent expose of poachgate in Hyderabad, targeting four TRS MLAs and with a deep-rooted design to topple the K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) Government in Telangana, became a national sensation. It caused tremors across the spectrum of political parties in the country.

For some, the scandal came with a sense of shock and disbelief and littered with disgrace. And unnerving for those who have conspired and aspired to thrive on a political ambush for a hostile takeover of power in Telangana. And for many political entities that have seen the rough and tumble of the body politic, it came with a sense of déjà vu – with striking resemblances of it to what they had already witnessed or experienced first-hand, being at the receiving end.

The 'Operation Farmhouse', that pulled a fast one and nullified the 'Operation Kamal', may have happened only as recently as October 26. But the plotting to topple the TRS regime has been going on for nearly six months now.

The big twist in the six-month-long plot was the Moinabad farmhouse poachgate on October 26 when the three deal brokers were 'caught in the act' in their bid to lure four TRS MLAs to BJP and force a split in the ruling party. And tucked in between these two key developments was Munugode and how a by-election was contrived there as a diversionary tactic. And the most recent hurried visit of the Prime Minister to Hyderabad hiding behind the RFCL commissioning in Ramagundam was yet another act of marvel in the bigger, ingenious design.

How the Munugode ploy was designed

Hard to imagine, Munugode indeed went for a by-election with only months away from the general election. The motive was clear. The by-poll was forced more for covert reasons than plain electoral gains, to achieve two intended purposes. That is, to restrict KCR to only Telangana and in the process ensure he does not go around the country to muster support for his grand national ambitions. And the other is, use this breather to regroup and destabilise the TRS Government.

Here were phases that the conspirators aimed to achieve in the 'multi-layered plot': Create the necessity of a by-election to any one Assembly constituency, use the electioneering time to lure some TRS MLAs into their fold well before the polling date and ensure the victory of the BJP candidate in the by-poll by hook or crook. Then, showcase the victory to propagate that the alleged attempt to poach the TRS MLAs had the endorsement of the people. Also, use the by-election result and the bribery of MLAs as bait to lure former legislators and other influential leaders into the party fold.

Engineering a massive-scale rift in TRS and spreading canards that the party is on the verge of becoming extinct were the next phases of the deep-rooted conspiracy. All these factors were meant to be used to eventually bring down the democratically-elected TRS government in Telangana. Caught in this six-pronged plot was Komatireddy Rajgopal Reddy, then Munugode MLA from the Congress party, unwittingly becoming a pawn in the larger conspiracy aimed against KCR's regime.

RCB aka Ramachandra Bharati into the picture

The BJP big guns have begun implementing the next phases of the multi-pronged conspiracy, long before the November 3 Munugode by-election. And there entered Ramachandra Bharati alias Satish Sharma, who was internally regarded a genius in brokering deals to destabilise state governments across the country.

He already had a few acquaintances in Telangana, one of them being Simhayaji, who in turn was close to Nanda Kumar. Using the 'good (or bad) offices' of the two, he quickly embarked on Operation Kamal.

Pilot Rohit Reddy, the foot in the door, for the brokers

As soon as the by-election schedule was notified on October 3, the saffron party decided to go full throttle on 'Operation Kamal'. They established contact with Tandur MLA Pilot Rohit Reddy in their desperation to ensure the defection of some TRS MLAs into the BJP, well before the polling day. That Rohit Reddy would promptly report the poaching attempt to his party leadership was something that went above their heads.

As days progressed, Rohit Reddy kept the three brokers engaged and well within his grasp by pretending to be falling in line with them. After passing on all the recordings of phone conversations and screenshots of text messages to his party leadership, Rohit Reddy decided to go for the final kill by playing on their psyche. His apprehensions, conveyed to Simhayaji, on how to trust them and their close links with the BJP did the trick. A message sent by Ramachandra Bharati to Simhayaji on this matter read, "PM is directly involved in this," which leaves nothing for imagination on what it means. This is one of the astonishing facts that came to the fore from the call data of the accused, as confirmed by the police sources.

According to the police sources, based on the call data records, Ramachandra Bharati also claimed through some of the messages he sent that three to four higher officials with close association with the Prime Minister and at least three officials of the Union home ministry were in constant touch with him.

How the brokers fell for Rohit Reddy's hook

Trusting Rohit Reddy beyond doubt, the three brokers exerted pressure on him to ensure the defection of at least four TRS MLAs into the BJP. They also felt that legislators of weaker sections would be easy prey. They pleaded with Rohit Reddy to accomplish the task well before the Munugode by-election polling even as the latter kept dragging it. In an indication of how heavy the alleged BJP pressure was on the brokers, one of them texted Rohit Reddy on October 16, stating, "Tug of war. Please. Get at least one MLA."

The brokers kept pressurising the MLA with the intention of ensuring a few joinings in BJP at party president JP Nadda's public meeting in Munugode that was held on October 31. But the Tandur MLA, with the help of the Cyberabad Police, set the trap while waiting patiently for the catch. Finally, the meeting for deal negotiations took place at Rohit Reddy's farmhouse in Moinabad on October 26. The secret cameras and powerful audio devices installed by the police in the farmhouse recorded their conversations, cash offers as enticements, the names of Number 1 and Number 2 besides the references to BL Santosh.

It is also claimed by the police sources that around the time the three brokers of Operation Kamal were apprehended at the farmhouse, Amit Shah, BL Santosh and Tushar, a close aide of Shah from Kerala, were all at one place and in a huddle. It is alleged that Tushar spoke to Ramachandra Bharati over a phone call right from there. Tushar was also heard on recorded tapes promising that he would get the other two 'biggies' also to talk to Ramachandra Bharati. But with both the two big leaders being busy, they could not speak to Ramachandra Bharati and thus the big fish escaped from the trap, the SIT sources said.

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