Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy on Saturday accused his predecessor and Telugu Desam Party chief Chandrababu Naidu of “orchestrating and promoting” a non-existent company through a fraudulent agreement in the Rs 371 crore corruption case involving the state’s skill development corporation in which he has been jailed.
“Siemens, the company in question, issued a written statement disavowing any connection to the Rs 371 crore transaction and the agreement,” Mr Reddy said during a speech at Nidadavolu in the East Godavari District.
Besides the state investigative agencies, even the Government of India’s investigative agency, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), caught the individuals implicated in the skill scam, which unveiled Rs 371 crore in misappropriated funds, the Chief Minister said, alleging that Chandrababu Naidu’s “significant involvement in this fabricated agreement” became apparent once the investigative agencies unveiled the mastermind behind the scam along with “compelling evidence and documents”.
Mr Reddy claimed the former Chief Minister dismissed warnings from government officials who had advised against proceeding with the agreement and “compelled” them to move ahead.
“The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) presented all these pieces of evidence, while ED investigations traced the diverted funds to shell companies, resulting in further arrests,” he said.
The IT department also discovered incriminating chats involving Chandrababu Naidu’s personal assistant, implicating those responsible for orchestrating the fraudulent agreements, he added.
In a dig at the former Chief Minister, he said Chandrababu Naidu, who initially vowed to question the government, “fell silent” during his 10-hour arguments in court.
Meanwhile, the TDP organised a candle march in solidarity with Chandrababu Naidu demanding justice against the “false accusations” and “unethical arrest”.
Mr Naidu’s wife, Bhuvaneshwari, and his daughter-in-law, Brahmani, joined the candlelight rally in Rajahmundry.
TDP general secretary and Mr Naidu’s son Nara Lokesh called the arrest an attempt by a “known corrupt” chief minister to hamper the party’s popular campaign to oust him from power.
He also questioned the “snail’s pace” of progress in several criminal cases, including in alleged misappropriation of money, lodged by central investigation agencies like the CBI and the ED against Jagan Mohan Reddy, saying it raises questions.
Mr Reddy and his party YSR Congress have in the past termed these cases as politically motivated.
Justice can be delayed but not denied, Nara Lokesh said on Saturday, expressing confidence that his father will soon get relief from courts.
The Telugu Desam Party boss’ arrest has roiled Andhra Pradesh politics ahead of Assembly and Lok Sabha elections due next year.