Jagan Mohan Reddy's party, the YSR Congress, has called for a three-day bandh in Andhra Pradesh in protest against his arrest last evening by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The arrest came after three days of interrogation at Hyderabad's Dilkusha Guest House, where Mr Reddy was held overnight. (Read: Who is Jagan Mohan Reddy?
Mr Reddy is now at the CBI court at Nampally. He was driven there along with his wife Bharati amid tight security. The court had rejected his anticipatory bail plea on May 25; today he is expected to seek bail, while the CBI will seek his custody.
His mother, Vijayamma, an MLA, has launched an indefinite fast outside her home in Hyderabad's Lotus Pond. Much family drama last evening saw Mr Reddy's mother, wife and sister picket the guest house where he was held. They had to be taken away. The arrest comes close to the June 12 by-elections to 17 Assembly and one Lok Sabha seat. The YSR Congress is contesting all the seats and Vijayamma has said she will take Jagan Reddy's campaign forward.
"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: YSR Congress' statement on Jagan Mohan Reddy'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 being rounded up to prevent them from mobilising crowds. Ambati Rambabu has been taken into custody. Konda Surekha and Murali are under house arrest in Warangal and they have said they will complain to the Election Commission that they are being stopped from campaigning for the by-polls; other YSR Congress leaders too are under virtual house arrest in different parts of the state.
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 huge traffic jam. A cellphone tower was burnt in Aithepally.
The police is well-prepared - it 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 and threatened to call for bandh after Mr Reddy's arrest. In Hyderabad, the area from the Dilkhush Guest House to the Lotus Pond and Nampally areas have heavy security.
Before the arrest, Jagan Reddy said it was a conspiracy by the ruling Congress and the main Opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) to create a law and order situation to postpone the June by-elections. Mr Reddy has been campaigning hard and fancies his party's chances. While he was being interrogated over the last three days, hectic political activity was taking place behind-the-scenes. The YSR Congress party claims that several Congress and TDP MLAs have got in touch with it and are ready to jump ship. On the three days that he was questioned before his arrest, Mr Reddy made it a point to arrive at the CBI camp with rebel Congressmen. (Timeline: Jagan Mohan Reddy's battle for survival
The Congress has reacted with caution to the arrest. I don't want to comment on it. The CBI is an independent body, the law always takes it own course," said Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi. The BJP, however, slammed the Congress. "The CBI is being used by the Congress to attack those people who are against them. There were charges against many leaders... even Savita Reddy, the Home Minister, has been questioned by CBI. Even the Supreme Court has issued a notice to all the eight Cabinet ministers on the charges of corruption. Why no action is being taken against them and why Jagan is being selectively targeted?" said BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy. (Read: Congress reacts with caution to Jagan's arrest
The CBI has been questioning Jagan on how their family's wealth increased dramatically after his father YS Rajashekhar Reddy became chief minister in 2004. The CBI has alleged that Jagan and his father doled out favours to some companies and in return the companies invested in Jagan's businesses. 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.
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 Jagriti 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.
Mr Reddy is the son of former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy, who died in a helicopter crash in 2009. After his father's death he split with the Congress and formed his own party, the YSR Congress.
The corruption case against Mr Reddy could affect not just his political fortunes, but that of several other leaders from the party who quit the Congress in a huff. One of those leaders, a minister named M Venkatramana, was arrested after seven hours of interrogation on Wednesday. Mr Venkatramana has been remanded to judicial custody till June 7. Five other Congress ministers are also being studied for possible collusion.