Andhra Pradesh

Naidu decisions, including on Amaravati, now under SIT scanner

For several months now, one has been hearing about allegations of insider trading in the Amaravati capital region. Jaganmohan Reddy harped upon it during the election campaign in Andhra Pradesh and ever since he came to power in May 2019, his cabinet colleagues have been alluding to top Telugu Desam leaders having hit the pot of gold thanks to prior knowledge of where the capital will be located. 

After the Cabinet sub-committee found that there were procedural, financial and legal irregularities in how Amaravati was conceived as the capital, Jagan has now constituted a 10-member Special Investigation Team (SIT). This has been given the mandate to probe into alleged fraudulent transactions in projects, programmes, institutions and important administrative decisions since June 2014, when the bifurcated state of Andhra Pradesh came into existence. 

The SIT will be headed by DIG Kolli Raghuram Reddy and will take off on the basis of the material collected by the cabinet sub-committee that was headed by finance minister B Rajendranath. The aim is to have the SIT investigate according to the provisions of the CrPC and be the nodal agency to coordinate with other agencies in the state, and more importantly the Centre.

It must be pointed out that in the last session of the Andhra Pradesh assembly, Speaker T Sitaram had asked the government to order a comprehensive investigation into allegation of fraud in different land deals. The CID has already registered two cases against former ministers P Narayana and Pulla Rao in the alleged insider trading case.

What does this mean for the extremely bitter and combative world of Andhra Pradesh politics? 

The TDP has reason to see red because it will interpret this as yet another instance to wreak vengeance on the party. It sees in these multiple probes attempts being made to paint the TDP and its top leadership as corrupt and somehow dig up dirt on Naidu and those close to him. But while the TDP plays the victim card, the fact remains that the SIT probe will push the party on to the backfoot. Expect selective leaks in due course of time to hit the headlines and embarrass the party leadership.

The YSRCP is convinced it is on the right track. Privately, its top leadership cites instances of several top leaders having benefited from shady land deals and says it wants to nail them with evidence. 

But while doing so, the ruling party will also need to worry about public perception, both within and outside Andhra Pradesh. In the last nine months since Jagan came to power, the impression that has gained ground is that he wants to undo everything that Naidu did and two, throw charges of corruption on the former chief minister. While attempts to get to the truth of what exactly happened in Amaravati is laudable, good governance has to be futuristic and not rear view mirror driving. The impression the YSRCP gives is that it is too obsessed with the TDP. Its obsession needs to be Andhra Pradesh. 

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