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2 Andhra ministers get marching orders

Jagan completes one year in jail

Gulf News

Hyderabad: As YSR Congress president and Member of Parliament from Kadapa YS Jaganmohan Reddy completed one year in jail, his burgeoning corruption case claimed two more members of the Andhra Pradesh cabinet.

State governor ESL Narasimhan on Sunday accepted the resignations of state home minister P Sabita Indra Reddy and road and buildings minister Dharmana Prasad Rao on the recommendation of Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy.

Both the ministers are mentioned in charge sheets of the CBI in the disproportionate assets case of Jagan. The only son of former chief minister, the late YS Rajasekhar Reddy, was arrested by the CBI on May 27 last year and has been lodged in Chanchalguda jail of Hyderabad since then. Several bail petitions have been rejected by the special CBI Court, High Court and the country’s highest court, the Supreme Court. The CBI, which has filed five different charge sheets on various aspects of the massive case, has strongly opposed Jagan’s release on bail saying he can try to influence the witnesses and damage the evidence if he comes out of jail.

Jagan, who spends most of his time in his special cell in jail reading books including the Bible and newspapers, was busy in charting out the strategy for his fledgling party and also choosing candidates for the coming Lok Sabha and Parliamentary elections. This is first time that a high profile politician in the state has had to spend such a long time behind bars in a case of corruption.

Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy sent the resignation of the two tainted ministers to the government after a delay. While Dharmana Prasad Rao had sent his resignation in August last year after he was named accused No. 5 in charge sheet No 4 for his alleged role in the allocation of 20,000 acres of land for a project of a private sector company.

The state’s first woman home minister Sabita Reddy had resigned earlier this month after the CBI named her in charge sheet No. 5 accusing her of irregularities in giving a mining lease to Dalmia Cements.

The CBI claimed that both the ministers had taken decisions favourable to these companies as they had made huge investments in the companies owned by Jaganmohan Reddy.

So far three ministers have lost their jobs for their alleged links with Jaganmohan Reddy. Earlier, the CBI arrested another minister, M Venkatramanna, for his role in the allocation of 20,000 acres of land as he was then minister for ports and infrastructure. The land was allotted to an industrialist, Nimmagadda Prasad, for Vodarevu and Nizampatnam Ports and Industrial Corridor. The CBI said that in exchange for the land, Prasad had invested Rs8.54 billion (Dh562 million) in the companies of Jagan.

Sabita Indra Reddy landed herself in trouble by giving a mining lease to Dalmia Cements which had invested Rs500 million in Jagan’s companies. One IAS officer Y Srilakshmi and mining department director VD Rajagopal were also arrested by the CBI in this case.

Several other major companies including Hetero Drugs and Ramky group of companies were also facing similar charges.

The CBI has charged Jagan with corruption, cheating and misusing his father’s power for his personal benefit.

With the removal of the two ministers the heat will increase on the three other ministers whose role in Jagan’s case was under the CBI’s scanner. The Supreme Court has already issued notices to these ministers and trouble will mount for them once the CBI includes their names in future charge sheets. They include Kanna Lakshmi Narayana, Ponnala Lakshmaiah and J Geeta Reddy.

Leader of the opposition in the state assembly N Chandrababu Naidu described the acceptance of the resignation of two ministers a “partial victory” and said that his Telugu Desam party would continue to fight until all tainted ministers were shown the door.

Meanwhile, senior leader of YSRCP DA Somayajalu alleged that the cases against Jaganmohan Reddy were politically motivated and that there was a disproportionate use of the CBI in the case. “The right of opportunity to be heard was denied to Jagan”, he said.

The investigation should be completed within 90 days after filing the FIR and the charge sheet should be filed failing which any person is eligible for bail. In this case even after one year the investigation is not completed and five charge sheets were filed against a single FIR which shows the process is shoddy, he said.