All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen president Asaduddin Owaisi has alleged that the Congress candidate in Nirmal constituency in poll-bound Telangana attempted to offer Rs 25 lakh as 'party fund' to cancel his rally in support of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti in the town, a charge denied by the Congress.
Addressing a public meeting organised by his party at Nirmal on Monday night, Owaisi claimed that he had a recorded phone conversation of the Congress candidate A Maheshwar Reddys offer of Rs 25 lakh to a local AIMIM leader 'party fund' for cancelling his meeting.
Rejecting the charge, Reddy termed it 'baseless and false' and said he would quit politics if Owaisi proved it.
AIMIM, which is on friendly terms with the TRS, has not fielded its candidate in Nirmal assembly seat, and organised the meeting in support of the ruling party candidate though there was no formal electoral tie-up between the two parties for the December 7 assembly elections.
The AIMIM is contesting eight seats-- all in Hyderabad -- while the TRS is going it alone in the polls to the 119-member assembly.
The Congress heading a 'grand alliance' of TDP, CPI and TJS has announced candidates for 94 segments.
"Now when this jalsa (meeting) is happening the Congress people tried to buy Asaduddin Owaisi. Maheshwar (Reddy) phoned a AIMIM leader telling him to stop Owaisi Saheb (from holding the meeting in Nirmal), (and) will give Rs 25 lakh party fund.
"I have the recording (of that phone conversation)," Owaisi said at the meeting.
"This Congress candidate wants to buy my party for Rs 25 lakh. These people think we do deal for our party, Rs 25 lakh that is the sign of their arrogance," the Hyderabad MP said.
Refuting Owaisi's allegations, Reddy dared Owaisi to prove the charge with evidence.
"Why should somebody stop someone's rally. Owaisi has already started campaigning for TRS party and now this man says that he is being stopped with an offer of Rs 25 lakh. Why somebody will offer him Rs 25 lakh and why he will stop," he told PTI.
"I want to make it very clear if really somebody had called him or met him or if he has any evidence let him show the evidence.
"I am ready to take it as a challenge and I am ready to quit politics if it is proved. Is he ready to quit politics, if it is untrue?" he asked.
They were talking of something which was 'baseless and false', Reddy added.
Reacting to Owaisis remarks, Congress party's star campaigner Khushbu Sundar told a press conference that the AIMIM chief should come out with proof.
"He (Owaisi) has to prove it. All I want to say is other than coming out with such an allegation, he should have come out with evidence first and then see if Rahul Gandhi takes action ( issue).
"We don't think that the AIMIM is such big group that it is going to threaten the Congress party (party's opportunities). It is a very small group and communal group," she said.
She alleged that there was a nexus among BJP, TRS and AMIM parties.
Meanwhile, the BJP Tuesday demanded that the Election Commission take cognisance of Owaisi's comments.
"What Owaisi has stated constitutes an attempt in electoral corruption," BJP spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao told reporters.
"Because, the state is currently undergoing election campaigning, Election Commission must take cognisance of this and must enquire into this and establish as to the culpability of the parties involved," he said.
The Congress party's desperation and its old habit of indulging in vote bank politics is once again evident, he claimed.
"This also shows some kind of a nexus between the Congress party and AIMIM led by Owaisi," Narasimha Rao said.