With the polling in the first phase of elections to the Assembly and Lok Sabha due on Thursday, the opposition Telugu Desam and its leader N Chandrababu Naidu were left embarrassed by an audio tape of Naidu's purported teleconference with his senior party colleagues.
In the CD, containing the telephonic conversation, Naidu was heard directing the party leaders to go all out to spend money and ensure the victory of the party candidates "in any way".
The 8-hour-long recording of the conversation over several such sessions, was produced before the media and the Chief Electoral Officer by a little heard Indian Justice Party headed by a lawyer Leo Augustine.
What has caused a stir is that the audio also contains Naidu's stinging remarks against Telangana Rashtra Samiti and the Left Parties who are TDP's partners in the Grand Alliance. The remarks also put TDP's commitment to Telangana state under shadows of doubt as Naidu is heard saying in the taped conversation that he was compelled to take pro-Telangana line by "unavoidable circumstances", and referred to the Telangana Rashtra Samiti president K Chandrasekhara Rao as "unreliable".
While the Congress party promptly took the issue to the Election Commission's notice, Naidu questioned the authenticity of the tapes, saying the voice on the tape was not genuine and somebody had mimicked him. He demanded that the Congress should explain from where the tapes had come and who tapped the phones.
On the origins of the tape, Leo Augustine said he had not recorded the telephonic conversation but it was given to him by someone else. But if the tapes were genuine, it is obvious that it was an "inside job" aimed at sabotaging the Grand Alliance's plans.
Chief Electoral Officer I V Subba Rao said he had received the complaints and the tapes were being verified. "We will take necessary action and issue notice to the Telugu Desam chief", Rao told the reporters.
The teleconference was between Naidu and senior party leaders like Kadiam Srihari, Ummareddy Venkateshwarulu, K Vijayrama Rao, E Dayakar Rao and many others.
In the recorded conversation Naidu was heard asking the party leaders not to hesitate to spend the money and ensure that money reaches the booth level committees. Reminding the colleagues that he had not asked for any such thing in the last elections, Naidu says, "We have to win this time at any cost."