Interview | Phone tapping money swaying Karimnagar LS polls, leaders bought with Rs 25 lakhs each, alleges Bandi Sanjay

What’s wrong with fighting on Modi’s image, BJP MP candidate Bandi Sanjay says in an exclusive interview with NewsMeter

By Mahesh Avadhutha  Published on  8 May 2024 12:34 PM GMT
Interview | Phone tapping money swaying Karimnagar LS polls, leaders bought with Rs 25 lakhs, alleges Bandi Sanjay

Hyderabad: Phone tapping money is being used to buy corporators and votes in the Karimnagar Lok Sabha polls, alleged Bandi Sanjay, former BJP state president and BJP MP candidate for Karimnagar.

“The main accused in the spying case and a Congress leader from Karimnagar are co-fathers-in-law and hence the phone tapping money has made its way to Karimnagar; not just in the present Lok Sabha elections but even in the Assembly elections held six months ago in Telangana,” Bandi said in an exclusive interview with NewsMeter on the sidelines of his busy election campaign in Karimnagar.

He exuded confidence in a big win for the BJP for this election riding on Modi’s image. Bandi said both Congress and BRS are of no competition for the BJP in Karimnagar and are only fighting for second place. The BJP senior leader said, he spent Rs 12,000 crore worth of funds in Karimnagar during his 5-year MP term.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

NM: How is the campaign going on in the Karimnagar Lok Sabha segment?

Bandi Sanjay: We are getting an overwhelming response from people. They are rooting for us and supporting us wherever we are going. The electorate has already made up their minds on whom to vote for this time. They want Narendra Modi to become PM again for the third consecutive time and understandably so giving BJP candidates a rousing welcome. I am confident of a big win again.

NM: If one looks at the party-wise representation, in the seven Assembly segments under Karimnagar Lok Sabha, Congress has won four, with the remaining three going to BRS and the BJP drew a blank. Will it impact BJP’s chances in the Lok Sabha elections?

Bandi Sanjay: BRS won all seven Assembly segments under the Karimnagar Parliamentary segment in the 2018 elections. However, in the General Elections held six months later, the BJP won by a margin of nearly 90,000 votes in Karimnagar. The Lok Sabha polls are not related to the State but linked to the Centre and the future of the nation.

As far as people are concerned, these elections are for giving a big mandate to Narendra Modi one more time. We won even when BRS had seven MLAs under the Karimnagar Lok Sabha seat. Even now, when the BJP has no single MLA, we are confident that people will back us again to ensure a big victory for the BJP.

NM: Bandi Sanjay is locking horns with Boinapally Vinod Kumar from BRS and Velichala Rajender Rao from Congress in Karimnagar. Who according to you is going to pose a tough challenge for the BJP?

Bandi Sanjay: Both my opponents are fighting for the second place. They have realised that they cannot stop BJP’s victory run in Karimnagar and hence are locked in a two-way battle between themselves. Let us see who from BRS and Congress secures the second position.

NM: The feedback from the people in Karimnagar was that Bandi Sanjay won the 2019 election on his own image. However, they point out that Karimnagar MP was not available for constituents in the last five years. There is also discontent among local leaders and cadres over not getting due recognition for their efforts. Against this backdrop, the talk doing rounds is that Bandi Sanjay is mainly banking on Modi’s image to win the election this time. What do you have to say about this?

Bandi Sanjay: Narendra Modi is our party leader and he is an inspiration for all of us. What’s wrong if we fight the election battle on his image? People are backing Modi for a third term.

Talking about my work as Karimnagar MP, I took up development works worth nearly Rs 12,000 crores in three years after losing two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The public has seen how I waged a relentless fight for people’s issues after I became the BJP state president. The party cadre and functionaries always stood by me and I have been there for them always.

They worked selflessly, fought fearlessly for people and nation and never showed resentment or dissent whatsoever. Police cases were slapped against all of them including myself for standing up for people’s rights during my tenure as the BJP president.

Whatever yatra I took up, be it Praja Sangram Yatra, Gandhi Sankalp Yatra or Praja Hitha Yatra, the cadre from Karimnagar was always present in person to support me. The opposition’s accusations of my cadre are entirely false.

NM: BRS is alleging that Congress has fielded weak candidates in some constituencies to benefit the BRS. To name some, your rivals are pointing to the Karimnagar and Malkajgiri segments as examples. What do you have to say about that?

Bandi Sanjay: Congress says BRS fielded dummy candidates and BRS and the BJP have an understanding. On the other hand, BRS alleges that Congress and the BJP inked a secret pact.

In the case of Karimnagar, the Congress candidate was finalised after severe competition among the district leaders. The Congress candidate is close to KCR’s son and his family. The BRS candidate was reluctant to enter the fray initially believing that he would be relegated to third place in the election.

However, KCR strongly impressed upon him to change his decision. Accordingly, to ensure at least a second place for BRS, the Congress candidate is fully supporting the pink party. BRS and Congress are in understanding here in Karimnagar. That is why Congress finalised a candidate who has no connections with the party cadre or people here.

NM: Recently, the phone tapping case has rocked the state political circles in recent times. However, you are highlighting its impact in the Karimnagar election in a big way during your campaign. Can you throw more light on it?

Bandi Sanjay: The main accused in the phone tapping case is the retired IPS officer Prabhakar Rao. There is a Congress leader named Ashok Rao in Karimnagar. Both are co-fathers-in-law and Ashok Rao and Congress candidate Velichala Rajender Rao are dear friends. Everyone here is aware that the phone-tapping money is being used to influence the Karimnagar election.

As much as Rs 20 to 25 lakhs is being spent to buy a corporator or a leader. The total election expenditure is also being taken care of. They are of the feeling that if BRS wins the election here by chance, it is also their victory. And if Congress wins, they believe pressure can be mounted on the State government to close the phone tapping case altogether.

One more thing to be noted is that the phone tapping issue is not just confined to this election. Prabhakar Rao has created lot of troubles for us earlier also. There used to be a constant watch on my movements and a police vehicle used to be kept at some distance from my house to arrest me whenever I took up any programme or to tap my phone.

What has not been highlighted is that the phone tapping money was pumped in Karimnagar to fund some Congress candidates in the Assembly elections after reports emerged that Congress has an edge over BRS to form the government in Telangana.

Coming back to the Lok Sabha election, there were also doubts about the present Congress candidate getting the party nod as the CM was favouring a different leader, while another camp was supporting another leader. Against this backdrop, rumours floated that phone tapping money was spent from ‘Gully to Delhi’ to ensure that the party ticket finally reached Rajender Rao. Also, the fact that Congress is staying mum on the phone tapping case deliberately is also leading to suspicions and doubts.

NM: There is talk that Bandi Sanjay would be given a big position in government if he wins in Karimnagar and the BJP forms the government once again at the Centre. Did you prepare any plans to give a makeover to Karimnagar?

Bandi Sanjay: Setting up educational institutions, improving basic amenities and facilities for the people, constructing internal link roads etc. are on my priority list.

I am not contesting the elections with an eye on a Union minister post. Whatever the party high command decides, we, as loyal karyakarthas, will abide by it. Our objective is to make Modi PM again and thus get more funds for the development of Karimnagar.

One should note that of the total CRF (Calamity Relief Funds) given to Telangana by the Centre, 30 per cent was spent in Karimnagar alone.

NM: As the State BJP president between 2020 and 2023, you waged a relentless fight against the ruling BRS government, which ultimately lost power in the Assembly elections. How would the BJP’s role be henceforth in Telangana?

Bandi Sanjay: It was BJP alone that stood as a people’s voice and did not go back even an inch in the fight against the BRS government. For this, lathis were used on us, cases were filed and we even went to jail. But people believed the six guarantees promise made by the Congress in its election manifesto and voted for it.

However, Congress failed on its word of fulfilling the election promises within 100 days of forming the government. Now again, on behalf of the people, we have to fight against the Congress government to ensure it stands by its election manifesto.

They promised to deposit Rs 2,500 into each woman’s account, Rs 4,000 Aasara pension, Rs 15,000 Rythu Bandhu amount to farmers, Rs 12,000 annually to agriculture labour, Rs 5 lakhs to each homeless family, 10 gm gold and Rs 1 lakh cash for women getting married etc. On these unfulfilled promises, only the BJP will continue to fight against the rulers on behalf of the people of the State.

Next Story