N Chandrababu Naidu, chief of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, was arrested today over allegations of corruption and shifted to Vijayawada.
The TDP chief has been arrested in connection with an alleged scam of 317 crore in the Andhra Pradesh State Skill Development Corporation during his tenure. The body was established during the TDP rule to provide skill training to youngsters.
Mr Naidu was taken into custody early this morning by officers of Andhra Pradesh Criminal Investigation Department following high drama after midnight.
Late last night, the officers reached a function hall at Nandyal and served an arrest warrant to Mr Naidu. However, they could not take him into custody as the TDP chief's supporters protested.
A minor scuffle also broke out between the cops and Mr Naidu's supporters. Mr Naidu has alleged that cops have no evidence. "Show me where my name is. How can they arrest me without basic evidence?"
As TDP supporters throw questions at cops during the altercation, the police officers are heard saying that they have evidence and that the remand report contains everything.
In the notice served to Mr Naidu, senior officer of CID's Economic Offences Wing M Dhanunjayudu said, "It is to inform you that you have been arrested... at 6 am at R K Function Hall, Gnanapuram, H/o Moolasagaram, Nandyala town and it is a non-bailable offence."
The former Chief Minister has been charged under sections for criminal conspiracy, cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property and 465. The Prevention of Corruption Act has also been invoked.
Following the arrest, a post on Mr Naidu's official X account read that "no force on earth can stop me from serving Telugu people".
"For the past 45 years, I have selflessly served Telugu people. I am prepared to sacrifice my life to safeguard the interests of Telugu people. No force on earth can stop me from serving Telugu people, my #AndhraPradesh and my motherland," the post read.
Mr Naidu's arrest comes days after he claimed that he could be arrested soon. At a public meeting in Anantapur district, the TDP chief said, "Today or tomorrow they could arrest me. They may even attack me. Not one, they will do many atrocities."
In his address to mediapersons, a senior officer of the state CID referred to Mr Naidu as the "prime accused" in connection with the alleged fraud. "This case revolves around the establishment of centres of excellence in Andhra Pradesh," N Sanjaya, Additional DGP of Andhra CID, said.
"The Andhra Pradesh government released Rs 371 crore, a large part of which was siphoned and only a small part employed to establish the centres of excellence. Most of this money was diverted through shell companies by using fake invoices.
The investigation revealed that Mr Naidu was the "principal conspirator" in the matter and the transfer of government funds to private entities through shell companies happened under his "active leadership", the officer said.
The state BJP has condemned the TDP chief's arrest. State BJP chief Daggubati Purandeswari said police should have followed proper procedure instead of arresting Mr Naidu without giving proper notice.