On 2 September 2009, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy died in a helicopter crash in the forests of Nallamala hills. Within a month, his son Jagan Reddy took upon himself to go on an ‘Odarpu Yatra’ to “console the grieving masses”. The Congress high command and the party’s state unit, which saw this as an attempt by Jagan to thrust himself upon the chief minister’s chair, was quick to lash the whip. Jagan carried on his yatra without paying heed to the high command. In October 2010, the then textiles minister Shankar Rao petitioned the Andhra Pradesh High Court, which ordered a CBI inquiry into Jagan’s assets.
Between March and May last year, the CBI filed three chargesheets slapping the following counts: 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating), 409 (criminal breach of trust) and 477A (falsification of accounts) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The charges pertain to 26 Government Orders (GOs) that the YSR Cabinet had passed, which allegedly helped Jagan further his business interests. The CBI charged that the father-son duo had misused the CM’s office to allow SEZs, mining leases and a port by violating or bending norms on a quid-pro-quo basis. The beneficiaries of these orders, the CBI alleged, had to invest in companies floated by Jagan. Jagati Publications, floated by Jagan in 2006, had got most of these ‘investments’. Besides Jagan’s auditor Vijay Sai Reddy and another aide, an IAS officer and an IRTS officer too have been arrested in the three cases. While former Minister for Ports Mopidevi Venkata Ramana is already in jail, two other ministers who had passed the 26 GOs — Dharmana Prasada Rao and Sabita Indra Reddy — might face arrest soon.
The Enforcement Directorate also has three cases against Jagan for money laundering and has attached several of his properties, including his Lotus Pond mansion, altogether amounting to Rs 840 crore. The TDP has constantly been alleging that Jagan’s total family worth, owing to a complex web of investment in mines, SEZs and power projects, exceeds Rs 16,00,000 crore.
In May, the HC gave a four-month deadline to the CBI to complete the investigation in Jagan’s case. Speculation was rife about Jagan getting bail in September. Ironically, Shankar Rao, who was the first to petition against Jagan, has since then lost favour with the Congress and has publicly stated that the case against Jagan is unfair.