Hyderabad: Jagan Mohan Reddy
can no longer "masquerade as a victim" and did not cooperate during his three-day interrogation that ended with his arrest, argued the CBI's lawyer in a court near Hyderabad today. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which has accused the politician of corruption, forgery, breach of trust by a public servant and cheating, has asked to keep him in custody for 14 days. The agency claims that Mr Reddy money-laundered the bribes paid to his business empire by other firms who were favoured by his father, YSR Reddy, when he was chief minister. Opposing Mr Reddy's request for bail, the CBI said that if he is free, Mr Reddy could influence witnesses and tamper with his companies' accounts. (Timeline:
Jagan Mohan Reddy's battle for survival
Mr Reddy was arrested last evening and spent the night at Hyderabad's Dilkush guest house, which is the CBI's camp. He was driven to court this morning along with his wife Bharati amid tight security. The court had rejected his anticipatory bail plea on May 25; his lawyers will seek "regular" bail today.
Mr Reddy's arrest after three days of extensive interrogation has set Andhra Pradesh on edge. He has asked his supporters to stay calm; his party, the YSR Congress, has called for a day-long bandh in the state and a three-day bandh in the East Godavari district. (Read:
YSR Congress' statement on Jagan Mohan Reddy's arrest
Mr Reddy, his family and his party allege that his arrest has been orchestrated by the ruling Congress to damage his political fortunes in key elections scheduled for June 12. Mr Reddy was in the midst of his campaign when he was summoned for interrogation; 17 Assembly constituencies and one Lok Sabha constituency will vote in June; Mr Reddy's party is contesting all of them.
But Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Reddy countered Jagan Reddy's allegations. He told NDTV, "Jagan is losing popularity so he is trying tactics to win brownie points." Earlier, at a press conference, Mr Reddy said, "Governments don't interfere. The investigative agency reports to court." The law, he said, "would take its own course." His government just wanted law and order maintained, he said.
Mr Reddy found fault with Jagan Reddy's family for lashing out at the Congress, which, he said, had "nourished" Jagan's father and former chief minister YSR Reddy for leadership. He said both Jagan Reddy and his mother Vijayamma were trying to politicise YSR's death in a helicopter accident in 2009 because of the by-elections. He especially took umbrage at Vijayamma hitting out at party president Sonia Gandhi yesterday.
Vijayamma, an MLA, has launched an indefinite fast outside her home in Hyderabad's Lotus Pond against her son's arrest. Much family drama last evening saw her along with Mr Reddy's wife and sister picket the guest house where he was held. They had to be taken away. Vijayamma has said she will take Jagan Mohan Reddy's campaign forward. She said last night, "YS Rajasekhara Reddy (Jagan's father) won 33 Lok Sabha seats for Congress in 2009. Publicly YSR declared he would work to make Rahul Gandhi Prime Minister in 2014. So her (Sonia Gandhi) son should become PM and my son should suffer in jail," she said last night.
Political commentators say Mr Reddy's arrest and an emotive appeal from his mother might just turn into an electoral advantage for him in the by-elections. (Read:
Congress reacts with caution to Jagan's arrest
Mr Reddy has appealed to his supporters to be calm, but the government fears violence and Andhra Pradesh is on high alert. YSR Congress leaders are reportedly under virtual house arrest in different parts of the state. The CBI inquiry into Mr Reddy's business empire and the source of its funds was ordered by the Andhra Pradesh High Court in August 2011. Mr Reddy exited the Congress party in 2010 because his demands for a position of importance were repeatedly ignored.
Traffic is normal in Hyderabad. From other parts of the state, there have been reports of some violence - three buses were attacked in Rangareddy district's Ibrahimpatnam and state-run buses have been alerted. YSR Congress cadres have blocked the road by cutting down trees in Nellore district's Tada which has resulted in a huge traffic jam. A cellphone tower was burnt in Aithepally.
The police are well-prepared - they got the three days that Mr Reddy was questioned over to prep. Additional forces have been deployed in sensitive places and prohibitory orders limiting the assembly of people under Section 144 of the CrPC have been imposed in Hyderabad, Cyberabad, Kadapa, which is Jagan Reddy's Lok Sabha constituency and in the sensitive coastal town of Vijaywada which saw YSR Congress workers stage dharnas and threatened to call for bandh after Mr Reddy's arrest. In Hyderabad, the area from the Dilkush Guest House to the Lotus Pond and Nampally areas have heavy security.
PTI has quoted CBI officials as saying that Mr Reddy was questioned for three consecutive days and that his answers to certain investments made by a few companies to Sakshi Television and Jagathi publications, owned by him, were not convincing. "Some routing of funds have been detected from tax havens like Mauritius and Isle of Mann, indicating that there were quid pro quo investments in his TV channel and publication by some companies which were given land in the much sought after Andhra Pradesh Industrial Development Park," the CBI officials were quoted as saying.